Just when the UTSA Roadrunners seem to have discovered a semblance of rhythm on offense, their defense has collapsed.
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders took advantage of it on their home court Monday night by shooting 64 percent in the second half en route to an 84-75 victory over the slumping Roadrunners.
Leading by six at intermission, Middle Tennessee started fast when it came out after the break, making seemingly everything from everywhere.
At one point, the Blue Raiders built a 19-point lead.
Plagued all season by inconsistent offense, the Roadrunners didn’t fold. They came from behind and pulled to within five down the stretch.
But with Middle Tennessee hitting clutch free throws in the final minute, that was as close as UTSA would get.
In the end, the Roadrunners lost their four straight game and their 13th out of 15 overall.
UTSA 8-17, 1-11
Middle Tennessee 15-7, 6-3
UTSA finished 0-3 on its five-day road trip. The Roadrunners lost to Rice by 13. They lost to North Texas by 24. Now they’ve fallen to Middle Tennessee by nine. A common thread in all three games was a tendency to give up too many easy baskets. The Owls shot 62.3 percent in Houston. The Mean Green shot 54.8 percent in Denton. The Blue Raiders made 53.7 percent in Murfreesboro.
“We’ve got to put it all together,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said on the team’s radio broadcast. “We’ve got to defend. Rebound. Get quality shots.”
UTSA by the numbers
Jordan Ivy-Curry, plagued by poor shooting in the first two games of the trip, played much better on the offensive end against the Blue Raiders. He led the Roadrunners with 19 points on 7 of 17 shooting from the field. Jacob Germany bounced back from a six-point outing at North Texas to score 16. The 6-11 center made 8 of 11 shots. Dhieu Deing scored 14 off the bench and hit four 3-point shots, including three in the second half.
Shots start to fall
For UTSA, one of the worst shooting teams in the nation, the road trip wasn’t a complete disappointment. The Roadrunners hit 50 percent from the field against Rice. After making only 29.2 percent against North Texas, they bounced back and hit 42.9 percent against Middle Tennessee, including 47 percent in the second half. UTSA hit six of 17 from the 3-point arc after intermission.
Blue Raiders forward DeAndre Dishman played the role of Roadrunners nuisance in the second half, as he rang up 12 of his 18 points after intermission. In addition, senior guard Josh Jefferson scored 18, senior Donovan Sims produced 14 and junior Eli Lawrence 11. While the Blue Raiders hit five of their seven 3-pointers in the first half, they morphed after intermission into drivers attacking the paint. A critical play came with 54 seconds left when Sims, a 6-1 guard, drove down the middle for a layup for an 80-72 lead.
Feb. 12 — Western Kentucky at UTSA
Feb. 17 — UTSA at Southern Miss
Feb. 19 — UTSA at Louisiana Tech