Deing and Alley lead rally as UTSA tops IUPUI, 60-57

Dhieu Deing. UTSA came from behind to beat IUPUI 60-57 on Wednesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Newcomer Dhieu Deing scored 20 points and made some clutch plays at the end as UTSA rallied to defeat the IUPUI Jaguars by three. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Trailing by 10 points late in their third game in three days, the UTSA Roadrunners rallied Wednesday for a 60-57 victory over the IUPUI Jaguars.

UTSA was down 54-44 with 6:44 remaining when Jaguars guard Bobby Harvey buried a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.

Cedrick Alley Jr. UTSA came from behind to beat IUPUI 60-57 on Wednesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Cedrick Alley Jr. scored eight points and pulled down 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass. – Photo by Joe Alexander

From there, the Roadrunners ripped off a 16-3 run to the buzzer, with forward Cedric Alley Jr. hitting the boards hard and newcomer Dhieu Deing scoring seven of the points.

What changed for the home team down the stretch?

“We really stopped feeling sorry for ourselves,” said Alley, who had a monster game with eight points and 14 rebounds. “We had to pick up our energy. I know that has to start with me.

“That’s why I started crashing the boards as hard as I could to try to get second-chance or third-chance opportunities.”

Despite the late collapse, IUPUI still had a chance to win in the final minute.

On one possession, Bakari Lastrap turned it over with a pass that was deflected, leading to a fast break layup by Deing that lifted UTSA into a 58-57 lead.

Deing missed the free throw, allowing the Jaguars one last chance. After an IUPUI timeout, though, Lastrap turned it over again.

As Alley grabbed the ball, he was fouled, and went to the line to shoot a 1-and-1. He made both to account for the final score.

While Alley was a force defensively, Deing also did his part, producing 20 points and five rebounds.

“Man, this feels real good right now,” said Deing, a newcomer who has scored 13, 15, 16, 11 and now 20 points in his first five games for the Roadrunners.

Dhieu Deing and Cedrick Alley Jr. look to the Roadrunners' coaches for instructions with 2.0 seconds left in the game. UTSA came from behind to beat IUPUI 60-57 on Wednesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Dhieu Deing and Cedrick Alley Jr. look to the Roadrunners’ coaches for instructions with 2.0 seconds left in the game. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Deing said the Roadrunners just wanted to stay together as a team after IUPUI posted the double-digit lead.

“We’re just trying to see what our identity is as a team,” Deing said. “At that timeout when we were down six with about two minutes left, I told the team, ‘We’re going to do this together.’ ”

B.J. Maxwell led the Jaguars with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

First half

Maxwell scored 10 points in the first half for the Jaguars, who shot 50 percent from the floor in taking a 33-28 lead.

The Jaguars nailed four 3-point baskets, including two by Maxwell.

Despite poor shooting, UTSA stayed in the game because of its defense. It was the first time this year that the Roadrunners trailed at the half and won.

Records

UTSA 3-2
IUPUI 0-5

Coming up

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at UTSA, Sunday, 3 p.m.

Notes

IUPUI stands for Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Division I athletics teams at IUPUI play in the Horizon League. For IUPUI, Chuks Isitua hit 4 for 4 shots off the bench and finished with 10 points.

UTSA players celebrate after the Roadrunners came from behind to beat IUPUI 60-57 on Wednesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA players celebrate after the Roadrunners came from behind to beat IUPUI 60-57 on Wednesday at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA got contributions from Jacob Germany with 15 points on 6 of 11 shooting and four rebounds. Jordan Ivy-Curry, who scored a career-high 27 Tuesday night against Denver, was held to nine points on 3 of 14 shooting.

The Roadrunners pulled out the win despite shooting 33.3 percent from the field as a team.

Last Friday, the Roadrunners were humbled in a 96-44 loss at the University of Oklahoma. Then as the multi-team event opened on its home court Monday, UTSA lost a heart-breaker, falling 65-62 to Texas A&M-Commerce on a buzzer-beating, 3-point shot.

The Roadrunners rebounded Tuesday night to beat Denver 78-64.

Ivy-Curry has emerged after five games as UTSA’s leading scorer with 15.6 per game. Dhieu Deing is averaging 15 points, 6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. Jacob Germany is third in scoring at 13.4.

Jacob Germany. UTSA came from behind to beat IUPUI 60-57 on Wednesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany produced 15 points and four rebounds against the IUPUI Jaguars. Germany, a 6-11 junior, is averaging 13.4 points and 4.6 rebounds for the season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Ivy-Curry scores a career-high 27 as UTSA snaps a two-game skid

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA beat Denver 78-64 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry knocked down 10 of 19 shots from the field and hit five from 3-point range in UTSA’s 78-64 victory over the Denver Pioneers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Well, how are you, coach? “Better than last night,” Steve Henson said Tuesday night with a wry smile.

Henson’s UTSA Roadrunners had just rebounded from a deflating loss to a Division II school. In doing so, they employed an offense with flow and a defense that relied some on zone looks to completely flummox the Denver Pioneers.

Dhieu Deing. UTSA beat Denver 78-64 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Dhieu Deing has reeled off four straight games in double figures to start his UTSA career. He scored 11 points and also had eight rebounds against the Pioneers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With all that, they upended the Pioneers, 78-64, at the Convocation Center. UTSA’s first victory of the season over a Division I program served a number of useful purposes.

First, it snapped a two-game losing streak. Next, it allowed UTSA to wash the horrible taste of a Monday night loss to the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions out of its mouth.

Finally, it gave the Roadrunners a chance to go 2-1 in an early-season, three-games, in-three-days test.

UTSA (2-2) will play at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Convocation Center against the winless IUPUI Jaguars (0-4).

Against the Pioneers, the Roadrunners finished strong, turning a close game into a double-digit win by forging a 15-6 streak in the closing six minutes.

“This one feels good for a lot of reasons,” Henson said.

First and foremost, the coach said, it just feels better to win.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat Denver 78-64 in men's basketball on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Junior center Jacob Germany produced 17 points and eight rebounds for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Fortunately, right now,” Henson said, “we’ve got the good feeling of getting a (winning) result, and the really good feeling of having played much better.”

From last Friday through Monday, the Roadrunners had been pretty bad.

About as bad as they could be, actually. They had shot a near-school low 22.7 percent from the field in a 96-44 loss at the University of Oklahoma last Friday night.

Then on Monday, at home, in the first day of their own multi-team event, they were humbled again.

Just when it appeared they had found a rhythm against the Lions, forging a seven point lead early in the second half, they stumbled badly, losing the lead with sloppy play and then falling 65-62 on a buzzer-beating, three-point heave by Alphonso Willis.

As far as the Roadrunners were concerned, nothing could have felt worse.

“I couldn’t sleep,” admitted UTSA guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, who responded against the Pioneers with an effort befitting his nickname.

Harkening back to his days at La Marque High School, “Juice” hit 10 of 19 shots from the field. From long distance, he was 5 for 9.

He scored a career-high 27 points to go along with four rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes.

“Yeah,” Ivy-Curry told the team’s radio broadcast, “I had it going, but I want to give a big shout-out to my teammates, coming in with a positive mindset after a tough loss yesterday.”

What was the difference?

“We talked about it in shoot-around,” he said, “making smart plays, making better plays , taking open shots. We were focusing on that.”

Former UTSA coach Tim Carter told Ivy-Curry he seemed to be more loose and more aggressive, and he inquired what his coaches may have told him before the game.

“They just said (to) look for my teammates first,” he said. “Just be Juice (and) play my best. That’s it. They give me confidence. My teammates give me confidence. So, I just got to be Juice every game.”

Ivy-Curry had quite a bit of help.

Center Jacob Germany had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Forward Dhieu Deing had 11 points and 8 boards. Defensively, they were good as a team.

After the Pioneers started fast by hitting four of their first seven attempts on 3-pointers, the Roadrunners clamped down with perhaps their best effort of the season.

In the second half, the Pioneers hit 10 of 30 from the field (33.3 percent).

UTSA defensive highlights included sophomore forward Lachlan Bofinger chasing down a Denver guard and blocking a layup attempt from behind, off the backboard. On the other end, Deing completed a three-point play for a five-point swing.

Also, guard Erik Czumbel took a charge near the end of the game from Denver post Michael Henn. The foul sent Henn to the bench with five fouls.

Speaking with reporters afterward, Germany admitted that the loss lightened the mood in the locker room substantially.

“”Last night took a toll on everybody,” he said. “Something like that just crushes you. I think we bounced back(well). We had a good shootaround. It carried over to the game, and everyone was just happy afterward.”

Islanders hold off late charge to win, 65-59

Junior forward Isaac Mushila scored 16 points, and the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders held off a late challenge to post a 65-59 victory over the IUPUI Jaguars Tuesday night at UTSA.

With the win, the Islanders improved to 2-1 on the season under first-year coach Steve Lutz, a San Antonio native and 1991 graduate of East Central High School.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, fell to 0-4 under first-year coach Matt Crenshaw.

UTSA (1-2) will take on the University of Denver (2-1) in the second game of the night at 7:30.

Denver opened the three-day hoops festival on Monday with a 63-47 victory over IUPUI.

In the late game Monday, Division II Texas A&M Commerce upset Division I UTSA 65-62 on a buzzer beating, 3-point shot by Alphonso Willis.

The Roadrunners beat Trinity 97-66 last Tuesday, but since then, they have struggled. They fell 96-44 at Oklahoma last Friday and then dropped a game to the Division II Lions Monday night after leading by seven early in the second haf.

Tuesday’s scores, schedule

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 65, IUPUI 59
7:30 p.m. — Denver vs. UTSA

Wednesday’s schedule

1 p.m. — Denver vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
4:30 p.m. — IUPUI vs. UTSA

A&M-Commerce hits buzzer-beating three to stun UTSA, 65-62

Senior guard Alphonso Willis hoisted a three-pointer off the glass at the buzzer to lift the NCAA Division II Texas A&M-Commerce Lions to a 65-62 victory over the Division I UTSA Roadrunners Monday night at the Convocation Center.

Willis’ heroics came just moments after Jordan Ivy-Curry tied it for UTSA. Ivy-Curry buried a three with four seconds left to make it 62-62.

After the Lions pushed the ball upcourt, Willis fired over a couple of opponents to win the game. The Lions promptly rushed off the bench and mobbed Willis, piling on top of him in a wild celebration on the Roadrunners’ home court.

As the Lions continued their scrum, video shows one player with his head cocked back, his fists clenched at his side, screaming to the rafters.

“I’m happy for our guys,” fifth-year A&M-Commerce coach Jaret von Rosenberg told the team’s radio broadcast, “and that’s exciting for our fans.”

Records

UTSA 1-2
A&M-Commerce 0-0
Note: game counted as an exhibition for the Lions

A tough loss

For the Roadrunners, the loss to the Lions stung. It was UTSA’s first stumble at home to a sub-NCAA Division I program in three years, since it lost 77-76 to Division II St. Edward’s in the 2018 season opener.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. The UTSA men's basketball team lost to A&M-Commerce 65-62 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Jordan Ivy-Curry battles for a loose ball against Texas A&M-Commerce. He finished with 13 points – Photo by Joe Alexander

Worse yet, they were on the brink of a victory, and let it slip away. The Roadrunners held a seven-point lead on a Dhieu Deing drive with 14:27 remaining. They were up by six with 4:33 left.

And yet because of poor execution down the stretch, including a technical assessed for calling a timeout when they didn’t have any left, they lost a game they should have won.

After Ivy-Curry’s shot tied the game, UTSA coach Steve Henson said his players were in the right positions to defend the last play.

“You just got to stay between them and the bucket,” he said. “We did, and they heaved it from almost half court and it went in. Heartbreaker. Heartbreaker. So many plays prior to that. Shouldn’t have been in that position.”

Henson said the Roadrunners are struggling to run good offense.

“In the end, you got to convert and make open shots,” he said. “We had some looks, but, we’re just not moving the ball quickly enough. It’s not out of selfishness. We’re just not clicking on all cylinders. We’re still trying to figure it out.”

Individual leaders

A&M-Commerce: Alphonso Willis, 18 points on 5 of 9 shooting from the field. Jairus Roberson, 12 points. Clashon Gaffney, 12 points, six rebounds, four blocked shots.

Dhieu Deing. The UTSA men's basketball team lost to A&M-Commerce 65-62 on a 3-pointer at the buzzer on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Dhieu Deing led the Roadrunners with 16 points and nine rebounds. Deing was 6 of 19 from the field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA: Dhieu Deing, 16 points. Jordan Ivy-Curry 13. Cedrick Alley, 13.

First half

With Clashon Gaffney controlling the paint, the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions led for much of the first half, only to give way at the end of the period to the Roadrunners, who started to execute at a higher level en route to a 31-29 edge at intermission.

Rough start

The Roadrunners opened the season last Tuesday with a 97-66 home victory over Division III Trinity University. UTSA shot 47 percent from the field to blow out the Tigers.

On Friday, UTSA was blown out 96-44 on the road at Division I power Oklahoma. The Roadrunners shot 22.7 percent from the field, just off the school record for the lowest number in school history.

Against A&M-Commerce, the Roadrunners hit only 40 percent from the floor, including 36.4 percent in the second half. Underscoring problems with ball movement and rhythm, UTSA compiled only nine assists against 17 turnovers.

Denver beats IUPUI

Guard KJ Hunt scored 22 points and forward Michael Henn added 20 as the University of Denver Pioneers downed the IUPUI Jaguars 63-47 on Monday afternoon in the opening game of a UTSA multi-team event at the Convocation Center.

B.J. Maxwell scored 14 for IUPUI, the acronym for Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Tuesday’s schedule

5 p.m. — IUPUI vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
7:30 p.m. — Denver vs. UTSA

Wednesday’s schedule

1 p.m. — Denver vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
4:30 p.m. — IUPUI vs. UTSA

Notebook

Steve Lutz, a 1991 East Central High School graduate, is in his first season as head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Lutz has been a long-time Division I assistant with stops at Incarnate Word, Stephen F. Austin, SMU, Creighton and Purdue. At Creighton, he helped develop scoring whiz Doug McDermott, who now plays with the Spurs. Lutz spent his last four seasons at Purdue.

Oklahoma’s defense suffocates UTSA in a 96-44 blowout

The Oklahoma Sooners held UTSA scoreless for a span of almost eight minutes in the first half Friday night and then capitalized on the momentum, rolling to an easy 96-44 victory over the Roadrunners.

In the game played at the Noble Center in Norman, Okla., UTSA kept its head above water in the first few minutes, leading 4-2, before the home team set in motion a crushing defensive performance with a 17-0 run.

As the teams took a break for intermission, OU entered the UTSA record book by holding the Roadrunners to their fewest points in a half (10).

With a 33-10 lead, the Sooners came out and kept pouring it on in the second half, increasing the advantage to 30 with 16:55 left, to 40 with eight minutes remaining and, ultimately, to 53 with 33 seconds to go.

In the end, it was one of the most lopsided losses in UTSA’s 41-year school history.

“They just got after us from the start,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told Jay Howard on the team’s radio broadcast. “We just couldn’t get a good shot early on. We were fighting. We fought defensively for awhile. But I think just the fact that we could not get good looks at the basket eventually took some of our energy away from the defensive end, and it just steamrolled on us.”

Late in the half, OU center Tanner Groves asserted himself with shot-making both inside the paint and from 3-point range. Groves, during the streak, fired in one shot from beyond the arc, sank a mid-range jumper and flipped in a jump hook.

He finished with 21 points to lead four players in double figures. Umoja Gibson, Elijah Harkless and Marvin Johnson scored 10 each for the Sooners, who shot 61.5 percent from the field in the second half and ended with 58.2 percent for the game.

On the flip side, UTSA shot 22.7 percent, just off the school record 22.6 percent set on March 2, 2013, in a 53-37 home loss to Seattle.

With first-year coach Porter Moser in charge, Oklahoma employed a switching defense, with obvious positive results.

“They got a bunch of interchangeable sized guys. That’s kind of what we try to do defensively. Certainly, they were able to blow up a lot of our action with their switching,” Henson said.

A bright spot for UTSA was forward Dhieu Deing, a newcomer to the team who played his high school career at High Point, N.C. Held scoreless early, Deing got hot late and hit five three-pointers. He finished with 15 points. Guard Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 10 points and center Jacob Germany six.

Records

Oklahoma 2-0
UTSA 1-1

Coming up

UTSA hosts a three-day, multi-team event starting Monday at the Convocation Center. The Roadrunners play Texas A&M-Commerce on Monday night at 7:30. They’ll take on Denver on Tuesday night at 7:30 and IUPUI on Wednesday afternoon at 4:30.

UTSA-OU notebook

With the victory, Oklahoma of the Big 12 Conference improved to 7-0 against UTSA all time, including 5-0 against the Henson-coached Roadrunners. OU handed Henson his worst loss last year, 105-66.

Coming into the game, UTSA men’s basketball was winless in 12 years against teams from the five biggest revenue-producing athletic conferences. The loss dropped UTSA to 0-24 against Power Five opponents in that span. The program’s last victory over a P5 team came in November of 2009 at Iowa of the Big Ten.

Moser came to OU from Loyola-Chicago to replace Lon Kruger, who retired after last season. Moser is best known by fans in South Texas for leading his team to the 2018 NCAA Final Four at the Alamodome.

Under Moser, OU has stocked its roster with transfers, including brothers Tanner Groves and Jacob Groves from Eastern Washington, Ethan Chargois (SMU) and Jordan Goldwire (Duke). Also, super senior Marvin Johnson (Eastern Illinois).

Goldwire played 116 games at Duke over the last four years.

Germany scores 24 as UTSA wins its opener, 97-66, over Trinity

After some shaky moments in the opening few minutes of the season, the UTSA Roadrunners kicked their transition game into high gear.

They went on to shoot 55 percent from the floor in the first half to forge a commanding 19-point lead, en route to an easy 97-66 victory over the Division III Trinity University Tigers.

Darius McNeill. UTSA won its 2021-22 season opener on Tuesday, beating Trinity 97-66 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Point guard Darius McNeill made his UTSA debut with 11 points, six assists and four rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

A crowd of 1,302 gathered at the Convocation Center, curious to see what the Roadrunners could do without departed four-year scoring stars Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace.

What they witnessed was pleasing, to say the least.

“There were some real positive things out there,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. Long way to go. But some of the things that jumped out at us were the limited amount of turnovers — eight, and I’m guessing five or six were charges.

“I liked the way we took care of the basketball. (We had) a huge number of assists (24). I thought our guys were unselfish. They were trying to make plays for each other.

“The fact that the (Tigers) played 40 minutes of zone, and we hadn’t put a lot of our zone stuff in (was significant). Back earlier in the year we did some research, and last year, less than nine percent of our possessions were zone offense possessions.

“You’re going to work on what you do a lot. We’re going to play man to man offense most of this year, so we didn’t have a big package of things in. We had two alignments and basically two plays, and they played two different kinds of defenses.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA won its 2021-22 season opener on Tuesday, beating Trinity 97-66 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry, who started at shooting guard, scored 19 points on six of 12 shooting. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“Makes it a little bit hard to get a rhythm … But to see that (zone) for 40 minutes, I thought our guys handled it pretty well.”

Center Jacob Germany did most of the damage. He scored 24 points in 19 minutes, and he did it by hitting on 10 of 15 shots from the field.

Coming up

The Roadrunners will play on the road Friday when they meet the Oklahoma Sooners, a Division I power conference program.

Stat leaders

UTSA — Center Jacob Germany, 24 points on 10 of 15 shooting. Guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, 19, with three 3-pointers. Forward Dhieu Deing, 13, also with three from beyond the arc. Guard Darius McNeill, 11 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds.

Trinity — Ben Hanley and Tanner Brown led the Tigers with nine points apiece. Brown is a 6-3 sophomore from Brandeis.

Germany’s take

The 6-foot-11 post from Oklahoma had a tough week last week when he sprained his right ankle at practice and was limited in workouts for a few days.

He was running well against the Tigers but acknowledged that he may have lost some conditioning with the missed practice time.

“I definitely felt, in the first 45 seconds of the game, I was gassed,” Germany said. “But in the first game, I think everyone’s kind of gassed. You know, they’re excited. And their adrenaline is going … but, no, I was out for like a day, a little sprained ankle.

“We have a great under-water treadmill. Treadmills like that, you can run on with no weight, so that definitely helped me through that.”

A family feeling

UTSA started the season with a lineup consisting of Germany at center, Cedric Alley Jr. at power forward, Deing at the small forward, Ivy-Curry at shooting guard and McNeill at the point.

It was the first game in a UTSA uniform for both Deing and McNeill, and both had some big moments to get the team started.

In his first half as a member of the Roadrunners, Deing introduced himself to the fans by hitting 4 of 6 from the field and 3 of 5 from three. He also had three assists and three rebounds.

Deing, who played at two colleges previously, said it felt great to get the victory. “It just feels good doing it with my new family,” he said. “It’s a great atmosphere. I love San Antonio so far.”

Asked about his own performance, he said, “Normal. It’s just a normal deal, playing relaxed, and playing my game. Just doing what I do to get the dub (the win).”

Getting the crowd going

Lachlan Bofinger came off the bench to get the crowd going early. He had two dunks, including one on a one-handed feed from McNeill that brought fans out of their seats. Bofinger finished the game with six points, four rebounds and a steal in nine minutes.

Everyone’s Buddy

With strong personal ties to the UTSA coaching staff, Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield attended the game and also talked to the players.

“Don’t know if you’ve had an opportunity, but if you haven’t, you need to spend some time with Buddy,” Henson said. “He’s one of the most unique, special people I’ve ever been around.”

Hield led the University of Oklahoma to the 2016 NCAA Final Four.

OU’s head coach at the time was Lon Kruger. Two of Kruger’s staffers were Henson, then an OU assistant coach and Scott Thompson. Thompson is one of Henson’s assistants with the Roadrunners.

Jacob Germany. UTSA won its 2021-22 season opener on Tuesday, beating Trinity 97-66 at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jacob Germany connected on 10 of 15 shots from the field and scored 24 points against the Trinity Tigers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

SFA women claim 77-50 victory over UTSA in season opener

Karen Aston. The UTSA women's basketball team lost its 2021-22 season opener to Stephen F. Austin 77-50 on Tuesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

First-year UTSA women’s basketball coach Karen Aston says her team needs to learn how to play consistently from play to play. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners pushed the pace and tried to run with the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. The Roadrunners played with a determined effort in Karen Aston’s first game as coach.

But while they showed up with the will to win, they couldn’t get that done. Not against an SFA team that showed off a talented group of players capable of challenging for a second straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

The Ladyjacks bolted to an early lead, forced 33 turnovers and cruised to a 77-50 victory Tuesday night in the season-opener for both teams at the UTSA Convocation Center.

“I thought we started the game off well and then a couple of things didn’t go our way,” Aston said. “So we started to get a little antsy and got passive. And they kind of smelled the blood a little bit in the first half.”

Aston said the Roadrunners need to learn how to play every possession.

“I thought we showed signs of some good things and then we’d turn back around and foul,” she said. “Or … not get back on defense. I think there’s a play-to-play aspect that this team just doesn’t understand right now that we’ll get to.”

LaPraisjah Johnson. The UTSA women's basketball team lost its 2021-22 season opener to Stephen F. Austin 77-50 on Tuesday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Lapraisjah Johnson led the Roadrunners in scoring with 13 points. She also had four rebounds. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Scoring leaders

UTSA: Lapraisjah Johnson 13.
SFA: Stephanie Visscher 15, Tasharian Robinson 11, Angel Scott 10.

Third quarter

SFA leads 57-36

Despite eight points and three rebounds in the quarter from Lapraisjah Johnson and a determined effort from Queen Ulabo and others, the Roadrunners couldn’t slow down the Ladyjacks. UTSA, trailing by 16 at the half, cut the lead to 13 early in the period but failed to get any closer. Tasharian Robinson nailed a three to ignite a 15-7 run for SFA.

Second quarter

SFA leads 38-22 at halftime.

Playing better at the outset of the quarter, the Roadrunners pulled to within 10 when Jadyn Pimentel knocked down a 3 from the top of the circle. From there, the offense went a little bit haywire. UTSA went 0 for 6 from the field in a lull that stretched to the halftime buzzer. The Roadrunners were called for a shot-clock violation on their final possession, their 20th turnover of the game to that point. Stephanie Visscher had four points and an assist for the Ladyjacks in the period.

First quarter

SFA leads 22-9.

Tasharian Robinson hit two 3-pointers in a furious 13-3 run to close out the first quarter for the Ladyjacks. SFA sank five of six from the field during the streak. UTSA played good defense early, holding SFA to 3 of 11 shooting at one point. But the Roadrunners committed 13 turnovers and couldn’t get much going offensively.

Pregame

UTSA entered the opener under new leadership in coach Karen Aston, a former coach at Texas.
The Roadrunners are riding a streak of six straight seasons with losing records, including 2-18 last year.

UTSA also came in on a streak of 12 seasons without a trip to the NCAA tournament. In UTSA’s last NCAA appearance, in 2009, the team was 24-9 under coach Rae Rippetoe-Blair.

SFA played its opener coming off a 24-3 season last year and a trip to the NCAAs.

In the tournament, the Ladyjacks played in San Antonio at Greehey Arena and lost a heartbreaker, falling 54-52 in overtime to fifth-seeded Georgia Tech. Most of the players from last year’s team are back to try and make another run.

A longtime member of the Southland Conference, SFA has a new home in the Western Athletic Conference.

Breaking down the ABC’s of Josh Farmer’s potential

Josh Farmer, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Houston Sharpstown, at the first day of UTSA men's basketball practice. - photo by Joe Alexander

Josh Farmer, a 6-foot-9 freshman, has had a solid training camp leading into tonight’s season opener against Trinity University. – Photo by Joe Alexander

As UTSA preseason basketball practices played out over the past month, I had to make sure that I talked to freshman Josh Farmer before it was all over.

The lanky forward caught my eye early with:

A) A resolve to mix it up in the paint with more physical players;

B) An advanced ability to create both his own shot and shots for others, and;

C) A certain confidence that he belongs in the playing rotation even as a young man who is only a few months out of high school.

Standing 6-feet-9 and weighing 197 pounds, it seems that all he needs is a few years to get stronger, and the Roadrunners could really have something special.

Farmer said recently that he has already started on a rigorous weight-training regimen.

“I’ve been in the weight room,” he said in an interview last Friday. “I (was) in the weight room four times this week. Four times last week. And I’ve been eating, and drinking water. That’s it. My metabolism is fast. I might not think I’m eating a lot, but I am.”

With UTSA opening tonight against Division III Trinity and playing again Friday on the road at Division I power Oklahoma, the former standout from Houston Sharpstown is expected to play off the bench for the Roadrunners.

Just how much, is not certain. What is certain is that he has caught the attention of the UTSA coaching staff.

“It’s going to be fun watching him,” sixth-year coach Steve Henson said. “There’s not a question of if (he can play). I mean, he’s so talented, and he’s very coachable. Got a great basketball IQ.

“You tell him something once and he’s got it. Great attitude. He’s going to be a big contributor.”

Henson said last week that coaches are working to accelerate his development.

“We need to speed up that process,” Henson said. “We’ve talked about that with our coaches, with some of our players, as well. They know it. They can see it. Anybody walks in the gym, whether you know anything about basketball or not, you can see his talent.

“We just got to speed that process up and see how he can impact games. You know, right now, he’s behind some other guys. But he’s also got a ton of upside.”

Farmer’s practice battles with burly senior Cedric Alley Jr. have been entertaining. On one end of the floor, Alley will go into his bump-and-grind routine, and then forcefully will spin inside.

On the other end, Farmer isn’t shy about using his dribble handle to get around traffic in the paint. Then, with his length, he creates just enough space to pass. Or, at times, enough space to shoot a bank shot.

A brazen move, for a freshman. Like Keaton Wallace or Jhivvan Jackson four years ago, Farmer is not shy about anything that happens between the lines on a basketball court.

Almost matter of factly, he said he expected to play as a freshman when he arrived on campus. He said he had a feeling he would based on his conversations with the coaches and with the trust he had in his ability to rebound and run the floor.

Nevertheless, he still had to prove himself, and he did.

“Yes sir,” he said.

So, how does Josh Farmer grade himself on his performance in camp?

“It kind of took me time to get used to the pace of the game,” he said. “When I got used to it, it kind of converted to me attacking (on offense) and on defense being able to see everybody … It just takes time to adapt to everything.

“But I feel good about it, overall.”

Basketball season opens at UTSA with a two-for-Tuesday

A new era in UTSA basketball will dawn on Tuesday night at the Convocation Center.

The UTSA women will start the season under first-year Coach Karen Aston, with the Roadrunners tipping off against the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks at 5 p.m.

The men’s team, having retooled in the offseason without departed four-year scoring stars Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace, will play its opener at 7:30 against the Division III Trinity Tigers.

The atmosphere in the arena, meanwhile, is expected to return to pre-pandemic dynamics.

There will be no Covid-19 restrictions on seating capacity, said a spokeswoman, who added that face coverings are recommended but not required.

Also, the school band is expected to return to the arena for the first time since the end of the 2019-20 season.

“Just as we’re excited to get back to playing ball games, I think the fans, the students and the band and all those folks are going to be excited about getting in here and getting the Convo going again,” sixth-year UTSA men’s coach Steve Henson said. “We start out (the season) with a doubleheader, with the women playing (first), which is kind of a unique situation, so I hope a bunch of people come out and plan on spending several hours in the Convo tomorrow night.”

Aston, announced on March 29 as UTSA’s 10th head coach in women’s basketball, is tasked with a monumental rebuilding job.

Over the past four years, the UTSA women have finished 9-21, 7-21, 6-23 and 2-18, respectively. In the past three seasons, the Roadrunners’ record in Conference USA is a combined 4-44, including 0-14 last year.

If anyone can right the ship, it might be Aston, who has forged a career record in NCAA Division I of 285-146 (.661). Aston coached at Texas from 2012-2020 and went 184-83 (.689) in that time, leading the Longhorns to six NCAA tournaments, including three Sweet 16s and an Elite 8.

UTSA sophomore Kyleigh McGuire said the new coaching staff, which also includes Jamie Carey, Empress Davenport and Cameron Miles, has been demanding.

“I think it’s a lot different than last year,” McGuire said. “They’re very particular when it comes to the small details. I think it really pushes us to try to be perfectionists. At the same time, they understand that we can make mistakes, so they’re very understanding, but they want to help us get better.

“They’re very encouraging. They want to see us succeed.”

In college basketball, turnarounds can happen fairly quickly, as evidenced by Henson’s first few years as the UTSA men’s coach.

When Henson and the current coaching staff arrived, the program had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In 2015-16, the last year under the previous staff, the Roadrunners’ fortunes plummeted as they finished 5-27 and 3-15 in Conference USA.

With Henson in charge, the team finished 14-19 in his first season. But then it began to improve steadily with the arrival of Jackson and Wallace.

Over the next four years, with Jackson and Wallace scoring more than 4,500 points between them, the Roadrunners posted three winning records overall and in the C-USA. Last year, they finished 15-11 and 9-7 in conference.

Now that the two have moved on, the Roadrunners will be a team in search of a new identity. Outside of a few injuries, Henson said the preseason camp was good for his team.

“First two or three weeks, I thought we were terrific,” he said. “I thought we lost our edge there for about a week and a half. But we’ve put together some good (practices). Two of the last three have been really good.”

On Monday, junior center Jacob Germany worked out through the entirety of an afternoon practice, a good sign for the Roadrunners. Germany, the team’s leading returning scorer, was hobbled for a few days last week after twisting his foot.

Henson said Germany won’t be on a minutes restriction against Trinity. “He was nearly 100 percent today, so we’ll play him as needed tomorrow night,” the coach said.

UTSA’s Henson predicts that Germany will play the opener

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat UTEP 86-79 in a Conference USA game on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

After twisting his foot earlier this week, UTSA center Jacob Germany has continued to practice on a limited basis, aiming to play in the season opener Tuesday night at home against Trinity. — File photo by Joe Alexander

Fighting through discomfort in his right foot for the second straight day, UTSA center Jacob Germany should be able to play in next week’s season-opener for the men’s basketball team, Roadrunners coach Steve Henson said Friday afternoon.

“Based on what he did today, I’d be shocked if we didn’t play him some,” Henson said after a workout on campus.

UTSA will open on Tuesday night in its 41st season of basketball with a doubleheader at the Convocation Center.

The women’s team will host Stephen F. Austin at 5, followed by Henson’s men’s squad against the Trinity University Tigers at 7:30.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, Germany’s status for the opener was clouded when he went down and with an injured foot or ankle.

“Twisted it badly,” was how Henson described the mishap.

On Thursday, Germany was limited to shooting the ball in his on-court work. By Friday, though, the 6-foot-11 junior participated in most of the practice, even in some of the half-court drills.

The only time he sat out was in the five-on-five, full-contact work.

“On one hand, you feel like that game (against Trinity) is right around the corner,” Henson said. “On the other, with the amount of treatment he’ll be able to get between now and then, that game’s a long way off.

“(Trainer) Josh (Modica) will take good care of him tomorrow,” Henson said. “We’re doing nothing together on Sunday as a team, so that’ll be a great recovery day, a great treatment day. Just guessing, just like you are, but I think he’ll be close to normal on Tuesday.”

Germany has enjoyed a highly productive preseason, showing off an expanded offensive repertoire.

Last year, as a sophomore, he averaged 10 points per game with most of the production coming on dunks, short hooks and mid-range jumpers.

This fall, he looks much more versatile. He regularly knocks down shots from the 3-point line. Germany, a natural lefthander, was even seen recently making a right-handed hook.

Obviously, he is expected to be a lynchpin for the Roadrunners.

Henson hasn’t named his starting lineup or the players he plans to play regularly leading into the month of November. But he said he might have a nine-player rotation.

If Germany is ready physically, he is expected to start at center. Senior Cedric Alley Jr. likely is the power forward. On the wings, the Roadrunners appear to be leaning toward a backcourt of Darius McNeill and Jordan Ivy-Curry, with Dhieu Deing at small forward.

Others who appear to be in the plans for the rotation, based on what has transpired in recent practices, are highly-touted freshman Josh Farmer, and also Lachlan Bofinger and Lamin Sabally, all of them forwards. Erik Czumbel is expected to back up at both guard spots, with Phoenix Ford coming in to spell Germany.

Farmer played last season at Houston Sharpstown High School, where he was regarded as one of the top forwards in the state. Sabally, another freshman, played at a prep school in Arizona last season after moving from his native Germany.

“Lamin’s been stringing together a lot of good practices,” Henson said. “I mean, he’s been really, really good.”