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.