UTSA rallies to win 9-8 behind freshman pitcher Braylon Owens

UTSA reliever Braylon Owens got the win in Sunday's victory over Florida International at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Braylon Owens, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound righthander from Elgin, improved his record to 2-1 on the season as UTSA downed the FIU Panthers 9-8 at Roadrunner Field. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Braylon Owens pitched 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief on Sunday as the UTSA Roadrunners rallied to win 9-8 and complete a three-game Conference USA sweep of the Florida International Panthers.

Owens entered the game in the seventh inning. He allowed three hits and walked one, but he also made some big pitches in striking out two for the Roadrunners, who improved to 27-13 on the season and to 12-6 in the C-USA.

Jonathan Tapia delivered a solo home run and Ryan Flores added an RBI in the bottom of the seventh as the Roadrunners forged an 8-8 tie. After Owens held FIU scoreless in the top half of the eighth, UTSA made it 9-8 in the bottom half on a Garrett Poston RBI single.

Owens retired three straight in the ninth to nail down the victory, which improved UTSA’s record to 14-3 over its last 17 games. The Roadrunners are 10-2 in their last 12 in C-USA play.

Southern Miss leads the conference standings at 16-2, with UTSA and Louisiana Tech tied for second at 12-6. Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee tied for fourth at 11-7.

UTSA has a tough week ahead, hosting nationally-ranked Texas State on Tuesday and then traveling for a weekend series at Middle Tennessee.

Records

UTSA 27-13, 12-6
FIU 11-26, 4-14

Coming up

Tuesday — Texas State at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Friday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee 6 p.m.
Saturday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee 3 p.m.
Sunday — UTSA at Middle Tennessee, 11 a.m.

UTSA stops a two-game skid with a 12-4 victory over FIU

Luke Malone pitched into the sixth inning Friday night as the UTSA Roadrunners ended a two-game losing streak, downing the FIU Panthers 12-4 in a Conference USA home game.

Malone gave up three triples and a double, but he stayed with it and earned the victory, improving his record to a team-best 6-1.

After losses to Rice and Texas State on the road, UTSA needed to gain some momentum going the other direction.

Malone, pitching 5 and 1/3 innnings, answered the call. He gave up six hits and three runs, with only one of them earned. The senior struck out five and walked none.

Ian Bailey and Garrett Poston homered for the Roadrunners.

Records

UTSA 25-13, 10-6
FIU 11-24, 4-12

Coming up

Saturday — FIU at UTSA, 2 p.m.
Sunday — FIU at UTSA, 11 a.m.
Tuesday — Texas State at UTSA, 6 p.m.

Roadrunners end six-game skid by downing the FIU Panthers

Dhieu Deing. UTSA beat Florida International 73-66 on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Erik Czumbel embraces Dhieu Deing after a play late in the game as the Roadrunners hold off the FIU Panthers 73-66 at the Convocation Center. Deing had 19 points in his first game back after leaving the squad in the first week of January. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The losing streak is over. UTSA ended a troublesome six-game skid Thursday night by battling from behind in the second half to take down the FIU Panthers, 73-66.

As a bonus, the Roadrunners notched their first win in Conference USA this season. “We needed it badly,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “There’s no secret about it.”

The streak was the longest in Henson’s six years at UTSA and the longest overall since the Roadrunners lost nine in a row near the end of 2015-16, which was the last season in Brooks Thompson’s tenure as coach.

Jacob Germany. UTSA beat Florida International 73-66 on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Playing against a 7-foot-1 center, UTSA post Jacob Germany scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds in the second half. He had 23 and 11 for the game. – Photo by Joe Alexander

In facing FIU, a big and physical C-USA East Division team with a winning record, 6-foot-11 center Jacob Germany produced a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Dhieu Deing added 19 points, including 15 in the second half. Jordan Ivy-Curry supplied 17 points, four rebounds and three assists as UTSA won for the first time in 24 days.

It was Ivy-Curry’s first game since Jan. 8. He sat out the last four in Covid protocols. For Deing, it was his first game since Jan. 1. He left the team briefly and sat out seven games as he tried to decide whether to turn pro or remain in college.

The Roadrunners, fighting against an extended stream of adversity during the month of January, have seen the season come to an end for Cedrick Alley, Jr. and Aleu Aleu.

Alley is academically ineligible and Aleu has suffered a right knee injury that required surgery.

All that notwithstanding, two of the most severe blows to the team came with the loss of Deing and Ivy-Curry.

Without them, defenses keyed on Germany and clogged up the paint. Players who hadn’t been shooting the ball much were forced to look at the basket, with only mixed results.

Jordan Ivy-Curry. UTSA beat Florida International 73-66 on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 17 points in his first game back after sitting out four in Covid protocols. He hit a three with five minutes left that helped to fuel a late UTSA rally. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Roadrunners were 1-6 without Deing (the only win coming against Dallas Christian) and 0-4 without both Deing an Ivy-Curry.

Deing, a 6-foot-5 junior transfer, said it “felt big” to earn the victory in his first game back.

“I prayed a lot on it,” he said. “I just felt like I couldn’t quit on my team like that. So, me, personally, I just (wanted to) do anything I could to win.”

Deing, who nailed three 3-point shots in the second half, said he thinks the difference down the stretch may have stemmed from the Roadrunners starting to learn how to play and pull together when the times get tough.

“Just, how are we going to fight adversity,” he said. “Basketball is about adversity, how are you going to fight it? We did it as a team, together.”

Deing actually had re-joined the team last week, but had to go into Covid protocols and ended up sitting out a couple of losses to the UTEP Miners, one on the road ane one at home.

Florida International's Clevon Brown is from San Antonio and Churchill High School. He had 12 points, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, against UTSA. - photo by Joe Alexander

Former Churchill High School standout Clevon Brown had 12 points, three rebounds and three blocked shots for the FIU Panthers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

He described his return as emotional.

“I think they’re always going to be my brothers,” he said. “I apologized. I told him I was sorry I quit on ’em. I was just happy to come back and take some dubs with this team.”

In the aftermath of a road loss at UAB on the first day of the New Year, tensions mounted when the team got back home.

“I was just frustrated,” Deing said. “A lot of things going on. A lot of people in my ear. Just a lot of things going on. Just frustration.”

Deing sat out on Jan. 3 against Dallas Christian, and then UTSA released a statement on Jan. 6 saying that he wasn’t on the team and was looking at options in pro basketball.

In regard to his other options, Deing said he considered “a lot of things” but did not sign anything.

After FIU bell behind and trailed most of the first half, at one time by as many as 14 points, the Panthers gradually climbed back in the game after intermission and took the lead with 7:57 left.

With point guard Tevin Brewer orchestrating the attack, FIU continued to press the action and pushed the advantage to Five. A floater by Brewer made it 61-56 in favor of the Panthers with 5:26 remaining.

Darius McNeill. UTSA beat Florida International 73-66 on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Darius McNeill takes it to the hoop for the Roadrunners. – Photo by Joe Alexander

From there, the Roadrunners pushed back. Consecutive 3-pointers from Ivy-Curry and Deing vaulted UTSA back on top by one point.

Down the stretch, UTSA benefited from plays by Germany and Erik Czumbel, who hit another three.

Both Deing and Ivy-Curry, at the line with one-and-one situations late, came up big by knocking down two free throws in each instance.

“Teams high in the standings are often times playing a lot of close games,” Henson said. “They’re just finding ways to win those ball games. We needed to get this one to reinforce that, to get it off our back and build on it.

“Kind of the message here is, keep building.”

Records

FIU 12-8, 2-5
UTSA 8-13, 1-7

Coming up

Saturday, FAU at UTSA, 1 p.m.

Notable

Germany was aggressive in pulling down five offensive rebounds, and he was efficient in hitting 10 of 18 shots. Coming against a team with a 7-foot-1 center (Seth Pinckney) and a few other wide-bodied forwards, it was clearly one of his better efforts of the season.

Quotable

“That’s Jacob,” Deing said. “He can come in and score 20 any day he want.”

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah and Jordan Ivy-Curry celebrate after Addo-Ankrah grabbed the final rebound of the game. UTSA beat Florida International 73-66 on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Isaiah Addo-Ankrah and Jordan Ivy-Curry celebrate after Addo-Ankrah grabbed the final rebound of the game. It was UTSA’s first win after 24 days and six straight losses. – Photo by Joe Alexander

With two scorers returning, UTSA hopes to end skid and beat FIU

Another serious challenge awaits the slumping UTSA Roadrunners when they host the Florida International Panthers on Thursday night.

Riding high, FIU is coming off two Conference USA victories at home over the Marshall Thundering Herd and the the powerful Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Against Western Kentucky, the Panthers (12-7, 2-4) knocked down 16 three-point shots, including seven of them by players off their bench, and won 86-83.

But in the Roadrunners (7-13, 0-7), FIU may not see the faltering ball club that some might expect.

The Panthers likely will not encounter the player groupings that struggled so mightily to score last week in a pair of five-point losses, on the road and at home, to the UTEP Miners.

Losers of six straight, UTSA is expected to play both Dhieu Deing and Jordan Ivy-Curry after the two shot-making guards returned to practice this week. UTSA also will feature a rejuvenated Darius McNeill.

Decimated up and down the roster by Covid and sundry other issues, the Roadrunners called on McNeill to become a scoring threat against the Miners — and he delivered.

The senior from Houston averaged 19.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in the two losses.

McNeill, a transfer from SMU who started his career with two seasons at Cal, looked as confident and as aggressive as he has been all season.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said McNeill “just relaxed a little bit” and then benefited from increased playing time.

In getting McNeill to “take a deep breath,’ Henson said coaches “tried not to point out every little detail” in what they wanted from him.

“We tried to free his mind up a little more,” the coach said. “Just try to get him to go out there and relax and play.

“I think that started the process … Certainly, a lot of guys are more comfortable when they’re getting bigger minutes. That, certainly, helped him a lot.”

On Sunday, when the Roadrunners rallied in the second half, McNeill had the Miners on their heels, hitting 4 of 7 from the field and 6 of 7 at the free throw line.

“The opportunity for him to get to the rim was there,” Henson said. “The way they defended on the perimeter, it kind of opened up the paint for some driving opportunities.

“In the transition game, he had several bust outs on long rebounds or quick outlets when he was able to get down there and attack.

“A few weeks ago, he was finally taking a breath and relaxing. Our approach to coaching him maybe changed a little bit.

“Then I think just the extended minutes and having the ball in his hands a little more helped him.”

For the season, McNeill is shooting 44 percent from the field and is averaging only 6.6 points.

UTEP coach Joe Golding said McNeill caused problems with his athleticism and determination.

“Good player,” Golding said. “(He’s) obviously talented and has played at some high levels. You can tell he wants to win. You can tell he’s invested, and it means something to him.”

Coming up

Thursday — FIU at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Saturday — FAU at UTSA, 1 p.m.

Records

FIU 12-7, 2-4
UTSA 7-13, 0-7

Notable

UTSA traveled to El Paso last Thursday with eight players, six on scholarship. The Roadrunners got two players back from Covid protocols for the rematch in San Antonio on Sunday.

By Tuesday, they had Deing and McNeill on the floor together for the first time since December.

Deing had been away from the team for the last seven games as he tried to sort out whether he wanted to turn pro or remain as a college athlete. Ivy-Curry has been out the last four in Covid protocols.

Skid hits six

The Roadrunners haven’t won since Jan. 3 when they defeated Dallas Christian, 101-48, in a non-conference game at the Convocation Center.

Since then, they have lost to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech (at home), Old Dominion and Charlotte (on the road) and to UTEP twice (on the road last Thursday, and then at home on Sunday).

The six-game skid is the longest in Henson’s six years as head coach. Previously, his teams suffered five-game losing streaks to start the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

It is the longest losing streak for a UTSA men’s basketball team since the Roadrunners dropped nine in a row near the end of the 2015-16 season, former coach Brooks Thompson’s last year at the school.

Scoring threats Deing, Ivy-Curry return to practice for UTSA

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

Guard Dhieu Deing has returned to practice with the UTSA Roadrunners. UTSA coach Steve Henson says it’s uncertain whether Deing will play at home Thursday night against the FIU Panthers. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Was that an air of optimism in the UTSA Convocation Center on Tuesday?

Or, was it just that confounded draft blowing through the old basketball arena when someone would enter through the doors on the north side of the building?

It might have been a little of both. But, whatever it was, the slumping Roadrunners had more players on the gym floor for practice than they’ve had in awhile.

Dhieu Deing (left) and Jordan Ivy-Curry go through drills at practice Tuesday afternoon. — Photo by Jerry Briggs

One of them was streak-shooting junior guard Dhieu Deing, who has been absent from practices and games for a little more than three weeks, reportedly not a part of the team as he considered options in the professional ranks.

Another player returning was sophomore guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, who has been out two weeks in Covid protocols.

UTSA coach Steve Henson said Ivy-Curry is expected to play when the Roadrunners, losers of six straight games, host the FIU Panthers Thursday night.

Whether Deing will play against the Panthers remains to be seen, the coach said.

“I can’t say on Dhieu yet,” Henson said. “Juice will play. I’m sure Juice will play. Unless something happens. We expect Juice to play as much as he can handle. We’ll see how it goes in the next 48 hours with Dhieu.”

A game in Alabama against the UAB Blazers on Jan. 1 seemingly sparked some tensions in the UTSA program. In the team’s Conference USA opener, the Blazers routed the Roadrunners, 87-59, and Deing was held to 0-for-11 shooting.

After returning home to San Antonio, emotions apparently were still running high.

Asked if Deing’s departure was a disciplinary measure, Henson said, “He was just frustrated. We were having a team meeting. We were discussing some things. And he stepped out … The next day, I think there was a lot on his mind at that point, a lot of pressure.

“He was just coming off the rough game against UAB. As a team, we were frustrated. We struggled as a team in that ball game. I just think there was a lot on his mind. He made a rash decision.

“We kind of had to let it settle down a little bit.”

First, Deing sat out a Jan. 3 non-conference home game against Dallas Christian. Next, UTSA announced on Jan. 6 before a C-USA home game against Southern Miss that he was no longer part of the program.

Even after the announcement, Henson said he continued to talk to the former North Carolina prep standout. Pretty soon, the talk turned to the possibility that he could re-join the team.

“He basically said he didn’t want to leave his team that way,” Henson said. “We just had to work through all the details on it and make sure we were comfortable with it. (We) continued to think about what impact it would have.

“Just felt like it was the right thing to do, at least give him a chance to come back to practice.”

A possibility existed that Deing could have come back to practice last week, but the plans were scuttled when he went into contract tracing protocols, Henson said.

Instead, the 6-foot-5, shot-maker made his first appearance at practice since late December on Tuesday afternoon.

“A couple of weeks ago, I made a mistake,” Deing said in a statement released by the athletic department. “I was frustrated on the court and lost my focus. I made a quick emotional decision, and I regret it.

“My coaches were very supportive of me, and I am grateful for that. I apologize to my team and our fans. I hope to come back and help our team in any way I can.”

Deing started in UTSA’s first 13 games. He averaged 15.3 points and 5.7 rebounds, while shooting 35.4 percent from the field.

Hot and cold with his jump shot, Deing was at his best when he was most selective, scoring 20 or more points four times.

Ivy-Curry, meanwhile, sat out two games in December and then missed the last four, both times because of Covid issues. The sophomore from Houston is averaging 15.1 points in 14 games.

If both of them can return to form, it could make quite a difference for the Roadrunners, who rank last in the conference, averaging 66.7 points as a team.

UTSA played short-handed with several players missing in recent days against the UTEP Miners, losing twice in low-scoring affairs decided by five points apiece.

On Sunday afternoon at home, the Roadrunners were boosted by the return of Christian Tucker and Josh Farmer, but the Miners pulled it out, 59-54.

Henson gave his players the day off on Monday, and on Tuesday, they gathered again. For the first time in weeks, Deing and Ivy-Curry were back on the floor together, and the energy picked up.

“It’s so helpful,” Henson said. “You can practice a little longer that way. Certainly we were able to get guys more reps at the right positions.”

Notable

If Deing gets back into the playing rotation, and it’s likely he will, the Roadrunners remain short-handed with 11 conference games remaining on the schedule.

Reserve center Adrian Rodriguez, a senior, retired from basketball with knee problems during preseason camp. UTSA announced last week that junior forward Aleu Aleu was also out for the season. Henson said he had surgery on his right knee.

In addition, Cedrick Alley, Jr., has been ruled academically ineligible.

Coming up

Thursday — FIU at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Saturday — FAU at UTSA, 1 p.m.

Records

Florida International 12-7, 2-4
UTSA 7-13, 0-7

Homecoming

FIU forward Clevon Brown, a grad transfer from Vanderbilt, grew up in San Antonio. He played at Churchill High School. Brown played four seasons with Vanderbilt in the Southeastern Conference. Now at FIU, he’s averaging 7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots for the Panthers.

UTSA wins on the road as Alley, Parrish key a late surge at FIU

The game looked a lot like some others that the UTSA Roadrunners had played on the road this year. Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson shot the ball well early, and UTSA jumped out to a 15-point lead.

Then in the second half, things changed.

The momentum, slowly, started to shift. The FIU Panthers, down by eight at halftime, kept plugging, kept chipping away. All of a sudden, Antonio Daye hit a jumper with 11:40 remaining, and the Panthers had seized a three-point edge.

Not to worry. The UTSA Roadrunners flipped the script on the season entirely down the stretch, making plays on both ends of the floor en route to their first road win of the season.

In another twist, a couple of players not named Jackson and Wallace contributed mightily in the final push for an 87-80 victory over the Panthers.

Forward Cedrick Alley Jr. anchored the paint on defense, while Eric Parrish scored seven points and crashed the boards for a few key offensive rebounds in the final 10 minutes.

As a result, the Roadrunners improved to 4-1 in their last five games to 1-8 on the road this season. Moreover, they gave themselves a chance to sweep the two-game series in Miami.

Records

UTSA 9-9, 5-6
FIU 10-11, 2-9

Coming up

UTSA at FIU, 1 p.m. Saturday

Notable

Wallace painted a masterpiece with 33 points and 7 rebounds. Jackson, playing with foul trouble most of the night, added 22 points. But this game wasn’t about eye-popping, three-point shooting, even though Wallace knocked down four of them and Jackson three. It was much more about the inspired play of Alley and Parrish down the stretch.

Quotable

“It was very exciting to see the other guys (Parrish and Alley) make big plays. There was one stretch where we were scoring two or three, four trips in a row, and it wasn’t Jhivvan and Keaton. Those two had monster nights. But we would get a bucket from Ced. We’d get a bucket from Parrish. We’d get a bucket from (Jordan Ivy-Curry). That’s really, really exciting.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

Furthermore

Another storyline centered on the Roadrunners winning a game on an opponent’s home court. They hadn’t done it since February of 2020. At the end of last season, they won at Old Dominion and then dropped their last three road contests of the regular season. This year, they started the season 0-8 on the road, including a humbling 69-51 loss to UTEP last Saturday night in El Paso.

Feeling good again

“I feel like it was a sense of relief, a little bit, because this is our first road win. I think we’re 1-7 or 1-8 on the road, so getting this road win today was big for our confidence. Like I said, we got to be ready to do it again tomorrow.” — said Wallace, who hit 12 of 19 from the field.

FIU by the numbers

Forward Antonio Daye, Jr., 26 points on 12 of 26 shooting. Guard Tevin Brewer, 17 points, with three 3-point baskets. Forward Dimon Carrigan, 15 points, 11 rebounds, 6 blocks. Like the Roadrunners, the Panthers shot the ball well early, hitting 59.3 percent from the field in the first half. In the second half, UTSA did a better job of limiting FIU’s good looks. The Panthers made only 43.8 percent after intermission. The loss dropped FIU to 1-8 in its last 9 games. The Panthers have lost eight straight in conference, including four of those at home.

.

Henson: ‘We think we have a good chance to win this weekend’

The UTSA Roadrunners have enjoyed a productive week of practice and will approach this weekend’s Conference USA games at Florida International as an opportunity to spark a run to the end of the regular season.

If they win on Friday night for their first road victory, well, that would be nice, too.

In their last outing, they collapsed down the stretch in a 69-51 loss to the UTEP Miners, falling to 0-8 on the road this season.

“To lose at UTEP is not the end of the world,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said in a Wednesday afternoon zoom call. “Put that behind us. Look forward. We think we have a good chance to win this weekend.”

The Roadrunners will play the Panthers at 6 p.m. on Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Miami, at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center.

Records

UTSA 8-9, 4-6
FIU 9-10, 2-8

Coming up

UTSA has eight games left in the regular season. After playing two in Florida against the Panthers, the Roadrunners return home on Feb. 12-13 to face the Florida Atlantic Owls (8-7, 3-3). After that, they’ll go back out on the road to face the Charlotte 49ers (9-7, 5-3) on Feb. 19-20. UTSA is set to complete the regular season at home on Feb. 26-27 against the UAB Blazers (14-2, 7-1). The C-USA tournament is March 10-13 in Frisco.

FIU banks in a buzzer-beater in regulation, then wins 90-83 in OT

Holding a two-point lead with two seconds remaining in regulation Saturday night, the UTSA Roadrunners seemingly had wrapped up their first Conference USA victory of the season.

All they needed was a successful inbounds play to finish it off.

But in the end, Florida International junior forward Eric Lovett spoiled it, disrupting the pass, picking up a loose ball and then banking in a 15-foot shot at the buzzer for the tie.

From there, the Panthers exploded past the Roadrunners, 90-83, in overtime at the Ocean Bank Convocation Center in Miami.

Records

UTSA — 6-9, 0-2
FIU — 11-4, 2-0

A disappointing finish

The collapse at the end of regulation and overtime sullied an otherwise solid road performance for the Roadrunners.

They played well against an FIU team that had won seven of its last eight, including a 69-67 home victory over UTEP Thursday night in the C-USA opener.

In fact, it appeared as if UTSA would steal the victory in the final few minutes with a 6-0 run that included three straight defensive stops.

Two free throws by Keaton Wallace lifted the Roadrunners into a 77-74 lead with 7.9 seconds remaining.

On the other end, FIU senior guard Trejon Jacob was fouled and knocked down his first free throw. He missed the second one, but senior forward Osasumwe Osaghae snared the rebound.

Osaghae went to the line with 2.7 seconds left and missed the first one. At that point, FIU called time out.

When the Panthers returned to the floor for Osaghae’s second attempt, they were called for a lane violation, giving the Roadrunners possession and a 77-75 lead.

Senior Byron Frohnen tried to inbound to Jhivvan Jackson. But the ball was deflected, and Lovett picked it up, giving the Panthers one last chance.

He turned and hit the shot off the glass, fading away, for the tie.

Quotable

“Disappointed for our guys,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio voice, Andy Everett, on The Ticket 760. “You know, we had a chance to rebound the free throw and didn’t get that done. Then we just had to inbound it one more time and we win the game.

“We didn’t have a time out left. I know you’re supposed to always have a time out left. I’ve been kicking myself in some of these other games where people are making runs and I haven’t been using those time outs to stop the runs. Trying to get a little more aggressive, using ’em earlier, and now I’m kicking myself for not having one there.

“But even then, we’ve got to execute a little better … we just didn’t complete the play, and it came back to haunt us.”

Notable

FIU came out with energy in overtime, and UTSA couldn’t match it. The Panthers opened with five quick points in an 11-2 streak for an 88-79 lead.

The Panthers converted during the run with an Isaiah Banks stick back and three-pointers from Lovett and Cameron Corcoran.

Forward Devon Andrews finished with 26 points and nine rebounds for the Panthers.

The Roadrunners entered the game seeking redemption after losing 79-64 on Thursday night at Florida Atlantic.

Jackson had a rough night in Boca Raton, hitting only 3 of 18 from the field. He bounced back against FIU with 30 points on 11 of 24 shooting from the field, including 5 of 15 from three. Jackson also had eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Contributions from the big men

UTSA junior Luka Barisic, in his first year with the Roadrunners, had a season-high 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Bior, a senior, also had some good moments with 10 points and seven rebounds.

Coming up

Continuing with its conference schedule, UTSA is set to host Louisiana Tech next Thursday and Southern Miss on Saturday at the Convocation Center.

Louisiana Tech held the highest national rating among C-USA teams (65th) before its home victory Saturday night over Southern Miss.

The Bulldogs downed the Golden Eagles 78-50, improving their record to 11-3 and 2-0 in conference.

Wallace’s slam punctuates UTSA’s romp past FIU, 100-67

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace throws down a dunk in the second half of the Roadrunners' 100-67 victory over Florida International on Thursday at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Keaton Wallace throws down a dunk in the second half of the Roadrunners’ 100-67 victory over Florida International on Thursday at the Convocation Center. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Phi Slama Jama, they aren’t.

But Keaton Wallace and Nick Allen raised some eyebrows anyway, throwing down second-half dunks Thursday night to punctuate UTSA’s 100-67 victory over the FIU Panthers.

Wallace scored 27 points to lead the Roadrunners.

An announced crowd of 1,493 at the UTSA Convocation Center watched as UTSA stormed to a 17-2 lead in the first six minutes.

Bidding for their first Conference USA title, the Roadrunners never trailed in the game and pumped the lead to 20 at halftime and to 30 with 11:43 remaining.

With the performance, UTSA extended its home winning streak to nine in a row, the longest for the Roadrunners in 27 years.

Records

FIU 14-10, 5-6
UTSA 14-10, 8-3

Title chase

Old Dominion leads the C-USA race with a 9-3 record, followed by UTSA and North Texas at 8-3.

Notable

Wallace, a 6-3 sophomore from Dallas, has averaged 32.5 points per game in his last four. Most of his damage is done outside the three-point arc, as he has hit 25 from distance in that stretch, but his second-half dunk created a stir.

Quotable

“I tried to stay calm, but I kind of wanted to jump and down like everyone else. That was pretty impressive. Keaton didn’t always show that type of athleticism a year ago. He really didn’t show it that much in the offseason. It’s just kind of happened as the season’s gone along.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.

First half

Despite a quiet first half from leading scorer Jhivvan Jackson, the UTSA Roadrunners powered to a 20-point lead on the FIU Panthers.

Jackson, who scored 76 points in two road games last week, hit only one basket — a three-pointer — in six attempts from the field.

But Jackson’s friends more than made up for it.

Shooting 61.8 percent in the first half, the Roadrunners employed the offensive skills of several players to run away from the Panthers.

Giovanni De Nicolao had 11 points and led three players in double figures. Keaton Wallace and Atem Bio scored 10 apiece.

Individuals

FIU — Brian Beard, Jr., 14 points, 5 of 11 shooting, 3 streals. Devon Andrews, 14 points, 5 of 12. Osasumwen Osaghae, 5 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks.

UTSA — Keaton Wallace, 27 points, 5 of 6 from three-point range, 6 rebounds, 4 assists. Giovanni De Nicolao, 16 points, 5 rebounds. Jhivvan Jackson, 13 points, 4 of 15 shooting, 6 assists, 2 steals. Atem Bior, 12 points, 5 of 7 shooting. Nick Allen, 11 points, 10 rebounds.

UTSA to host fast-paced FIU Panthers tonight


Emotions overflow at the end of a memorable game on Jan. 26 at the UTSA Convocation Center. After Keaton Wallace hits a falling-down three out of the corner for the go-ahead basket, Old Dominion misses three times in the last 15 seconds, setting off a wild celebration. UTSA erased an 18-point deficit in the final 4:43 to win, 74-73.

When the Florida International University Panthers are at their best, they’re pressuring the ball, pushing the pace and scoring points in a hurry.

Led by first-year head coach Jeremy Ballard, FIU is expected to bring that mindset to San Antonio tonight in a Conference USA road test against UTSA.

The Panthers have forced opponents into 20.3 turnovers per game, turning those miscues into 20.5 points — good for 23.9 percent of their scoring.

A game with pace might not be a bad thing for the Roadrunners, who have cranked up their offense to challenge for first place in the C-USA.

UTSA is coming off a wild road trip in which it scored 204 points in two games that both went to overtime.

In a 96-88 loss to Western Kentucky, and then in a 116-106 victory at Marshall, UTSA guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace took turns scorching the nets for more than 40 points.

Jackson had 46 at Western Kentucky and Wallace 45 at Marshall for the third- and fourth-best scoring games in school history.

UTSA has bigger plans than simply running up big offensive numbers.

The Roadrunners, under third-year coach Steve Henson, are playing to win the C-USA title and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

C-USA standings
Old Dominion 8-3, 18-6
North Texas 7-3, 19-4
UTSA 7-3, 13-10
UAB 6-4, 14-9
Marshall 6-4, 13-10
W. Kentucky 6-4, 13-10
Southern Miss 6-5, 14-9
FIU 5-5, 14-9
LA Tech 5-6, 15-9
FAU 4-6, 13-10
Rice 4-6, 9-14
Middle Tennessee 4-6, 7-16
UTEP 2-8, 7-14
Charlotte 2-9, 5-17

Tonight’s schedule
Charlotte at Middle Tennessee 6:30 p.m.
Old Dominion at UAB, 7 p.m.
FIU at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Marshall at North Texas, 7 p.m.
Western Kentucky at Rice, 8 p.m.
FAU at UTEP, 8 p.m.