Known more for his jump shot, UTSA forward Deon Lyle weaves through traffic and double-clutches for a layup late in the game against Louisiana Tech.
UTSA shrugged off an injury to its leading scorer Saturday night and won its 17th game of the season, 74-64, over the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Playing for most of the night without guard Jhivvan Jackson, who hurt his left knee early in the first half, the Roadrunners rallied with double-figure scoring from Deon Lyle, Giovanni De Nicolao, Keaton Wallace and Byron Frohnen.
“LA Tech’s a good team with a lot of good athletes, and they shoot the ball very, very well,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “We had to lock in and do it with our defense tonight. We did some good thing offensively, but I loved our fight and our effort on the defensive end.”
Lyle led the Roadrunners with 17 points and seven rebounds. He hit five 3-point baskets.
De Nicolao scored 11, including nine points in the final 5:28. Wallace contributed 10 points and eight assists, while Frohnen produced 10 points and nine rebounds.
Guard Jacobi Boykins scored 17, including a 3-pointer to pull the Bulldogs to within three with 3:42 left.
But Boykins was held without a point after that against UTSA’s stingy perimeter defense.
LA Tech forward Oliver Powell added 14 points and guard Exavian Christon came off the bench for 11.
With the win, the Roadrunners remained in fifth place in the Conference USA standings, one game out of fourth with two to play.
The top four in the C-USA get a bye through the first round of the tournament.
UTSA’s main concern looking forward is the status of Jackson, who is scheduled for an MRI early next week.
Diagnosis on Jackson termed ‘very concerning’
“It’s the type of play that looked bad,” Henson said. “The initial diagnosis is very concerning. We’ll just have to wait until we get more (information).”
Henson said he was proud of Jackson for displaying a positive attitude on the bench.
“It’s a very, very difficult thing,” the coach said. “The doctor told him it was serious. He could have sat over there and pouted but he stayed very involved.
“He was involved in the huddles. In the locker room at halftime, we could hear him talking to the players before we got in there.
“So, it’s hard to keep your head up in a situation like that. But he handled it very, very well.”
UTSA forward Nick Allen sees an opening on the baseline and takes it to the rim for a stuff against Louisiana Tech.
In the opening minutes of the game, Jackson appeared to be in good form. He hit two three pointers and was active defensively.
On the fateful play, he took off speeding down court on the dribble and drove hard, only to crumple to the court underneath the goal.
Staying on the floor until a trainer came out, the 6-foot guard from Puerto Rico was helped off without putting much weight on the leg.
Jackson was leading the team with an 18.9 average, the fifth best in the nation for freshmen.
UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao maneuvers into the lane and lofts a soft floater into the net for two points late.
UTSA 17-12, 10-6
Louisiana Tech 16-14, 7-10
Seniors’ last hurrah
It was a sweet win for UTSA’s four outgoing seniors, Austin Karrer, Kendell Ramlal, James Ringholt and Kyle Massie, who waved to the crowd for the last time at the Convocation Center.
Karrer, from New Braunfels Canyon, had four points, three rebounds and an assist. Ramlal also scored four points, including a mighty, two-handed slam at the end for UTSA’s last field goal.
Karrer said he had “mixed emotions” playing for the last time at home, noting, “l love these guys. I’d spend four more years here if I had ’em.’ They all know that. They know I love ’em. I’d like to think they played a little harder for me. I’d like to think that, at least.”
UTSA at North Texas, Thursday; UTSA at Rice, Saturday (end of regular season)
C-USA tournament, March 7-10, at Frisco