Last-place Middle Tennessee State stuns UTSA, 83-80

Jacob Germany. UTSA lost to Middle Tennessee on Saturday at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Jacob Germany made his first start for UTSA and scored six points in 14 minutes. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The last-place Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders gave up a 15-point lead and then hung on Saturday afternoon to stun the faltering UTSA Roadrunners, 83-80, in Conference USA basketball.

An announced crowd of 1,389 fans at the Convocation Center watched as UTSA, trailing by the eventual final score, tried to push the ball upcourt in the last two seconds for a shot to tie.

After two quick passes, Keaton Wallace was off the mark and late with a three-point attempt, and the Roadrunners lost at home for the second time in three days.

Blue Raiders guard C.J. Jones was the difference at the end, hitting three free throws after getting fouled with 2.8 seconds left.

Roadrunners coach Steve Henson issued a stern message to his players in the dressing room.

“It wasn’t a very positive one,” Henson said. “I just told ’em they needed to sit in there and let it sink in. Lost at home. Lost to a team that’s at the bottom of the standings. It’s not OK. We can’t be OK with it.”

The Roadrunners trailed by 15 points twice in the second half before mounting a rally that nearly resulted in a victory.

They went on a 23-8 run to tie the game at 78-all. They were tied again at 80-80 when Jhivvan Jackson missed a jumper and retrieved a loose ball to sink an 8-footer with 15 seconds left.

“It was a tough loss today,” Wallace said. “We were at home today and couldn’t get it done.”

Records

UTSA — 10-13, 4-6
Middle Tennesseee — 6-17, 2-8

By the numbers

Middle Tennessee was ranked 311th in the NCAA’s NET rankings of 353 Division I programs. UTSA was 193.

The Blue Raiders were 1-8 away from home this season and 0-5 on the road in conference before registering their biggest victory of the season.

The Roadrunners had won seven in a row and were 8-1 at home before losses to the UAB Blazers (76-68) and the Blue Raiders this week.

On Thursday night, UAB punished UTSA with a combination of offensive rebounding and inside scoring. Middle Tennessee basically won the game at the 3-point line, knocking down 14 from beyond the arc to UTSA’s nine.

Individuals

Middle Tennessee — Jones and Eli Lawrence scored 27 points apiece for the Blue Raiders. Lawrence, playing off the bench, sank and 7 of 9 threes. The 6-foot-5 freshman from Atlanta was averaging only 5.9 points per game coming in.

UTSA — Jackson finished with 32 points and seven rebounds. Wallace finished with 22 points, three rebounds and three assists.

Notable

UTSA shuffled its playing rotation, as 6-foot-11 freshman center Jacob Germany made his first career start. He finished with six points in 14 minutes. After getting bullied in the paint by UAB Thursday night, the Roadrunners did a better job on that front, with Adrian Rodriguez (17 minutes) contributing. But the change might have been detrimental to Luka Barisic, who went scoreless in seven minutes.

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