After a long possession, Dhieu Deing nails a 15-footer with 40 seconds remaining, helping UTSA secure a 79-73 victory over the Lamar Cardinals. https://t.co/hyCDEtJ4sq pic.twitter.com/0V066RWncx
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) November 25, 2021
The play unfolded with less than a minute remaining. Leading by three, the UTSA Roadrunners needed a basket for breathing room against the determined Lamar Cardinals.
A video of the play shows the Roadrunners making at least eight passes, moving the ball around, from the wing, into the high post, and on to the other wing, before it started to move back the other way — all the way back.
Ultimately, it ended up in Dhieu Deing’s hands, and the former North Carolina prep standout knew what to do with it. He caught it outside the 3-point arc and dribbled toward the baseline, where he pulled up to swish a 15-footer.
The shot boosted UTSA into a five-point lead with 40 seconds left, and Lamar never got closer than three the rest of the way. The Roadrunners went on to secure a 79-73 victory for their third win in four games.
“He’s making great, great progress,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Shot selection is a huge thing for him. We’ve gone through his last few ball games and looked at all of his shots. Last ball game, he took one or two that were just too hard.
“Again, he’s super confident. He thinks he can make everything.”
But to raise the level of his game, Deing needs to pick his spots better, and he did that against the Cardinals.
Deing scored 14 of his career-high 26 points in the second half as the Roadrunners bounced back from Sunday’s disappointing, 19-point home loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
UTSA pulled it off by making improvements in several areas — ball movement, shooting percentage from the field (47.2) and free-throw percentage (82.1).
The Cardinals were without one of their top backcourt players, but the Roadrunners will take a victory that pushes them back over the .500 mark.
“Team win,” Deing said. “Definitely had to bounce back. That was everybody coming to together. We got to keep on now. We got to make it consistent, though. Today, everybody was locked in and on the same page.”
St. Mary’s at UTSA, Monday, 7 p.m.
UTSA essentially won the game at the free throw line, hitting 23 of 28, including 15 of 18 after intermission.
Lamar played well but couldn’t convert as high a percentage on free throws, making only 15 of 24.
Deing, from High Point, N.C., and a former player at two other colleges, has stepped into a starter’s role in his first year with the Roadrunners to score in double figures in all seven games.
In besting his previous high of 20 points, he hit eight of 14 shots from the field, three of seven from long range, and seven of seven at the free throw line. He also had three rebounds and three assists.
“Just taking good shots,” he explained. “I feel like the other games, I was forcing it a little bit. We watched a lot of film, and I came back and took good shots.”
Christian Tucker steps up
After senior guard Darius McNeill left the game with a foot injury, freshman walk-on Christian Tucker had his best outing with nine points. Tucker, from Chandler, Ariz., scored all nine in nine, second-half minutes. He played 11 minutes overall, and hit six of seven at the free throw line.
Lamar center Valentin Catt follows a missed shot for a put back in the second half against UTSA. Catt finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds as the Cardinals lost to the Roadrunners, 79-73. https://t.co/hyCDEtJ4sq pic.twitter.com/NkFwdFbbQE
— Jerry Briggs (@JerryBriggs) November 25, 2021
The Roadrunners entered the game with a new look, with a change in the starting lineup, and with different player combinations. In the end, they came out of it with a 35-28 lead on the Cardinals at halftime.
In the first six games of the season, poor shooting plagued the Roadrunners. The shakeup helped to an extent with the team hitting 44.4 percent in the early going.
The Cardinals, on the other end, were held to 36.7 percent. But they stayed in the game with a 23-14 rebounding edge, including 11-4 on the offensive glass.
Freshman Lamin Sabally got his first start of the season and played seven minutes. He went scoreless on 0 for 2 shooting and had two rebounds. With Sabally starting, McNeill came off the bench.
McNeill, a senior transfer, played only five minutes before coming out with the foot problem. Forward Aleu Aleu made his UTSA debut, coming off the bench for almost five minutes.
He missed all three of his shots, including a couple of treys.
UTSA coaches remain hopeful that Aleu, a lithe, 6-foot-8 wing, can have an impact after he sat out almost the entire six weeks of preseason training with a quad injury. Henson said Aleu has had four full practices over the past week.