UTSA is breathing easier after Sirdashney’s walkoff winner

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

Two weeks ago, a high and inside heater from a Florida International pitcher caught UTSA’s Shane Sirdashney squarely in the ribs.

It was a brutal sequence of events in the April 24 game in San Antonio, with Sirdashney coughing up blood and then going to the hospital to see if he had suffered a fracture.

Shane Sirdashney. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Shane Sirdashney went 2 for 4, scored a run and drove in the game winner with a one-out, RBI single in the ninth inning. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Luckily for Sirdashney, the X-rays were negative.

“There were no fractures,” he said. “I was just kind of doing breathing exercises for a week, just doing nothing, just trying to get my lungs back. I felt like I was ready to go this weekend, and I played.”

Sirdashney’s comeback was well timed. It was just about as well timed as his walk-off RBI single on Sunday, which completed a two-run, ninth-inning rally and lifted the Roadrunners to a 5-4 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd.

Asked if he thought the baseball gods owed him the good fortune given his recent misfortune, which knocked him out of the lineup for five games, Sirdashney smiled.

“I think so,” he said. “I was just glad that we got the W. We needed this win bad. Just the way it came out at the end there was awesome.”

The implications of the two games to one series victory were equally compelling for the Roadrunners, who will move into the final two weeks of the season with a chance to claim their first Conference USA regular-season title.

Leyton Barry. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Leyton Barry takes a tumble after he scores the game-tying run in the ninth inning. In a head-first slide, he collided with Marshall catcher Ryan Leitch, who was shaken up on the play. – Photo by Joe Alexander

It will be an uphill battle, for sure.

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles lead the conference, with the Roadrunners alone in second place, two games behind. Both teams have six to play, including three straight, head-to-head, at the Golden Eagles’ home park next weekend.

How do they like their chances?

“I’m glad we’re in the picture,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “That’s all you want … as a coach. Obviously, in two more weeks, I want to be on top. I really don’t mind being in second place right now, because, we’re the hunter. But, we got to play good ball.

“This weekend (against Marshall), I don’t think we played bad. But we’re not hitting as sharp as we could. I think we’ve set a real high expectation, because we have hit all year. So, it seems easy … But, it ain’t that easy to hit. The pitches are not that easy. They’re not laying ’em in there.

“So, we got to stay positive with the guys. We didn’t hit as well as we could (this weekend). Clearly, I think we only had seven hits (today). But we’ll keep working at it. The guys have hit well all year. It’s not uncommon to go through slumps. So, we’re going to keep working at it.”

Zac Addkison, a Marshall sophomore from San Antonio and TMI Episcopal, struck out five in six innings Sunday. He left with a 4-3 lead, and observers said later his fastball hit 94 mph on the radar gun. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Both Marshall and UTSA had a lot of motivation to win this week. The Thundering Herd were trying to set themselves up to get into the eight-team, C-USA tournament field. The Roadrunners wanted to keep winning to put pressure on the Golden Eagles.

“It was huge,” Sirdashney said, “for them and us. This puts us in good position going into Southern Miss next week. It’s going to be a huge series. We get a series win there and it’s going to be huge for our RPI and also maybe winning the conference.”

Sirdashney said he likes the Roadrunners’ chances to overtake Golden Eagles, who have been in the top 10 nationally for the last few weeks.

“I hope we take this momentum (all the way),” he said. “I know everyone’s finishing finals this week. We’re going to be all focused on baseball after finals, and then when we go to Southern Miss, we’re going to be ready to play.”


Marshall 20-26-1, 9-15
UTSA 32-16, 16-8

Pat Hallmark. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said it’s fun to participate in the C-USA title race, but in order to win it, he said the team will need to swing the bats better in the last six games of the season. UTSA will play three at Southern Miss next weekend and then three at home against UAB from May 19-21.- Photo by Joe Alexander

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 18-6
UTSA 16-8
Louisiana Tech 15-9
Florida Atlantic 15-9
x-Six games to play in the regular season

Coming up

Friday — UTSA at Southern Miss, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday — UTSA at Southern Miss, 2 p.m.
Sunday — UTSA at Southern Miss, 1 p.m.


Elsewhere in the conference on Sunday, Southern Miss downed the Old Dominion Monarchs 5-4 in 10 innings to avoid getting swept at home this weekend. The seventh-ranked Golden Eagles (36-12) won on a bloop single by Danny Lynch that scored Christopher Sargent. Also, the FAU Owls beat the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 5-2, to win two of three in Ruston.

Ninth-inning dramatics

Ryan Capuano opened the ninth inning on the mound for the Thundering Herd Sunday, hoping to protect a 4-3 lead. Capuano struck out Sammy Diaz looking. Next batter up, Leyton Barry, drew a walk. Austin Ochoa, a pinch hitter, followed with a single up the middle, moving Barry to second. From there, with Jonathan Tapia at the plate, Capuano threw a wild pitch. As a result, Ochoa took second and Barry scampered to third.

Austin Ochoa. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Austin Ochoa figured prominently in the ninth-inning comeback with a one-out, pinch-hit single. He later scored the winning run on Shane Sirdashney’s RBI single. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Not wanting to deal with Tapia in that situation, Capuano intentionally walked him to load the bases. Josh Killeen stepped in. Killeen lifted a pop fly into shallow right field. Barry beat the throw to the plate with a head-first slide to tie the game, 4-4. The collision shook up Marshall catcher Ryan Leitch, but after conferring with the Marshall staff, he stayed in the game. After the delay, Sirdashney stroked an 0-1 offering into center field, bringing in Ochoa for the game winner.


Asked how he liked the finish to the game, Hallmark said, “I liked the finish. I didn’t love the rest of it.” Then he laughed.

And, what did he see on the play when the tying run scored? “I thought the slide was awesome,” Hallmark said. “I thought he slid straight in and hard. Really, really hard. He slid so hard, head-first hard, it was a little dangerous. But he went for it. I don’t know if he knocked the ball out or not, but the ball came (out of the catcher’s glove).

“It was a great slide. You got to go in low and hard. That’s what you’ve got to do. It’s not dirty. It’s just hard. I’d actually rather him go feet first. But, he’s doing everything he can to get there.”

Saving the day

UTSA right fielder Chase Keng has been one of the team’s hottest hitters during the team’s 25-game ride of 19 victories against only six losses. During the streak, he has hit for both average and for power. On Saturday, he blasted a three-run homer to boost his team-leading RBI total to 50. On Sunday, Keng made one of the best defensive plays of the season, captured deftly by photographer Joe Alexander.

Chase Keng. UTSA beat Marshall 5-4 on Sunday, May 8, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA right fielder Chase Keng makes a sensational catch against the wall in the sixth inning. After the catch, Keng fired to second to double off Daniel Carinci to end the inning. The play likely prevented one run, and possibly two, from scoring. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Marshall wins 9-6 to stall UTSA’s charge up the C-USA standings

UTSA's Chase Keng hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning. Marshall beat UTSA 9-6 in Conference USA baseball on Saturday, May 7, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Chase Keng belted a three-run homer in the sixth inning, boosting his team-leading RBI total to 50 on the season. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Marshall Thundering Herd built an eight-run lead in the early going Saturday and then held off UTSA, 9-6, in Conference USA baseball at Roadrunner Field.

In winning, the Herd evened a three-game series at one win apiece, kept alive their hopes for a C-USA tournament bid and stalled the Roadrunners’ charge toward the top of the standings.

Southern Miss leads the conference by two games over both UTSA and Louisiana Tech and by three over fourth-place Florida Atlantic. The UAB Blazers hold eighth place and the last playoff spot, two games ahead of Marshall.

Everyone has seven games to play in the regular season, with UTSA set to play Marshall at home on Sunday, followed by three at seventh-ranked Southern Miss next weekend and then three more at home against UAB from May 19-21.

On a hot Saturday in San Antonio, with temperatures in the 90s, UTSA arrived at Roadrunner Field 18-5 in its last 23 games and 13-3 in its last 16 in the conference. Marshall had struggled with an under .500 record for most of the season.

But the Herd, undeterred, broke loose with a big game on offense, collecting 13 hits, including six for extra bases. Leadoff man Travis Sankovich was a pain all day, stroking four hits.

In addition, both Kyle Schaefer and Geordon Blandon hit home runs off UTSA ace Luke Malone, who lasted only 3 and 1/3 innings and took the loss. Malone (7-2) gave up five runs on seven hits. Patrick Copen (3-3) pitched six innings and emerged as the winner.

He left the game with the Herd leading 9-4 and likely felt some anxiety down the stretch as the Roadrunners chipped away at the lead.

UTSA scored three runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and one in the eighth. In the ninth, Marshall’s Ryan Capuano retired three straight to complete a two-inning save.

Chase Keng and Sammy Diaz homered for the Roadrunners.


UTSA 31-16, 15-8
Marshall 20-25-1, 9-14

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 17-6
LA Tech 15-8
UTSA 15-8
FAU 14-9

Coming up

Sunday — Marshall at UTSA, 11:30 a.m.


In other games involving C-USA leaders Saturday, the first-place Southern Miss Golden Eagles stumbled at home for the second day in a row. The Old Dominion Monarchs claimed a 4-3 victory over the Eagles in Hattiesburg. The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs made up some ground with an 11-6 victory at home over the FAU Owls.

UTSA’s Henson vows that his team won’t pull apart now

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson scored 37 points and sparked a late rally, but Marshall held on for an 82-77 victory Saturday afternoon. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After an excruciatingly painful setback Saturday afternoon to close a disappointing regular season, UTSA coach Steve Henson talked about starting over next week at the Conference USA Tournament.

About pulling together to try to salvage the year.

Keaton Wallace. UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace had a tough day, scoring 13 points on 4 of 18 shooting. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

It was a tough day for Henson, no doubt, as his team played a dynamic 10-minute stretch at the end, only to suffer the misfortune of seeing the Marshall Thundering Herd hold on to win 82-77 at the Convocation Center.

So, what’s next?

Needing four wins in four days to reach the NCAA Tournament, the Roadrunners open the C-USA postseason on Wednesday in Frisco.

“New season,” Henson said. “I know it’s a cliche’. But it’s where we’re at right now, you know, and the fact that this group has stayed together — we haven’t had any chemistry issues. We haven’t had any locker room issues. We don’t worry about that at this point.

“If we were going to have that … if guys were going to pull apart out of frustration, that would have happened already. You know, this group had high expectations. We wanted to compete for the regular-season Conference USA title.

“We fell short of that, and our guys did not pull apart. So, they’re not going to pull apart now. We’re healthy. Keaton (Wallace) looked a little bit tired (today). We’d been riding him so hard, so long, all year. He needs a good day and a half off now.

“Got to get him going, obviously. We need to have some other guys step up. But, I don’t worry about our resiliency. I don’t worry about our chemistry. Our guys will come in ready to go on Monday.”

Scheduled to open the C-USA tournament as the 10th seed, UTSA has lost two straight games and four of its last five. The Roadrunners, picked to finish second in the C-USA preseason poll, have also dropped nine of their last 14.


Marshall 16-15, 10-8
UTSA 13-18, 7-11

By the numbers

Marshall — Forward Mikel Beyers scored 20 points off the bench to spark the Herd. He was one of five Marshall players in double figures, a group that also included Jarrod West (15), Andrew Taylor (12) and Jannison Williams and Taevion Kinsey (10 each).

UTSA — Jhivvan Jackson, a Conference USA Player of the Year candidate, finished with a double-double of 37 points and 11 rebounds. He scored 15 points in a row down the stretch for the Roadrunners. After Jackson, there was little help, with Wallace held to 13 points. Freshman center Jacob Germany finished with 10.

At the end

Trailing by 19 against the Herd with 10:26 remaining, the Roadrunners finally found a spark that had been missing all day. They outscored the visitors 30-14 over the next 10 minutes to pull within three points.

At the end, in the final seconds, a turnover by West opened the door for UTSA to tie the game. But with the Roadrunners trailing 80-77, the Roadrunners gave it right back, as Jackson fumbled an inbounds pass out of bounds.

Forced to foul, UTSA sent West, a junior guard, to the line on the other end. He promptly knocked down two free throws with eight seconds left for the final points of the game.

Jackson, who played 37 minutes, declined to blame fatigue for his error at the end.

“No sir,” he said. “When I’m on the court, I don’t get tired. It just slipped out of my hand. If I would have caught it, it would have been a basket. It just happened. I’m going to catch the next one, for sure.”

First half

West scored 11 points in the first half as hot-shooting Marshall moved out to a 52-40 lead at intermission. Marshall shot 50 percent from the field and knocked down seven three-pointers in the half against the struggling Roadrunners. Jackson had scored 19 for the Roadrunners. UTSA shot only 40 percent and got out-rebounded 24-18.


A poor shooting performance by the Roadrunners in the first eight minutes — 1 for 14 — allowed the Herd to take control of the game. Jackson was 1 for 6 during the stretch and Wallace 0 for 4. As a result, the Herd built the first of two 19-point leads. In the last nine minutes of the game, UTSA warmed up by hitting 9 of 18, but it was too late.

Senior Day

UTSA honored Byron Frohnen and Atem Bior on Senior Day. Frohnen holds the school record for career rebounds with 901. He also has records for games played and started with 131.

Byron Frohnen. UTSA lost to Marshall 82-77 Saturday in the Roadrunners' final home game of the season at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Byron Frohnen holds school records for career rebounds (901), starts (131) and also games played (131).

In Frohnen’s last game at home, he had five points, five rebounds and four assists. He hit two of three from the field. Bior, a two-year player for UTSA, had four points, six rebounds and three steals.

Frohnen said “it sucks” to lose on what likely is his last appearance at the Convocation Center. He said he wanted to go out with a win.

“I had great memories here,” he said. “I definitely won’t forget anything. I had a great time here.”

It’s also possible that it could have been the last home game for Jackson and Wallace, too, as Henson has said that both are scheduled to participate in an NBA Draft evaluation process after the season.

The process, as explained by Henson in January, will allow the high-scoring duo to get an evaluation of their market value, with an option to return to play another year for the Roadrunners.

Jackson, asked if he had considered whether the Marshall game might have been his last at home, shrugged off the question. “No, I haven’t thought about that yet,” he said.

UTSA locks down defensively, defeating Marshall, 72-63

Jhivvan Jackson shot 10-of-28 from the field, 1-of-8 on 3-pointers and 4-of-8 on free throws on Thursday against Marshall. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson shot 10-of-28 from the field against the Marshall Thundering Herd. – photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners strapped a strong defensive and rebounding effort on the Marshall Thundering Herd in forging a 72-63 victory in Conference USA basketball Thursday night at the Convocation Center.

Jhivvan Jackson produced a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Roadrunners.

Derrick Gervin watches a UTSA men's basketball game at the UTSA Convocation Center on Feb. 13, 2020. Gervin holds the UTSA men's basketball single-season scoring record (718 points in 1984-85). He is the second player in program history to have his jersey retired. - photo by Joe Alexander

Former UTSA great Derrick Gervin, watching from the bleachers, holds the school’s single-season scoring record with 718 points set in the 1984-85 season. Jhivvan Jackson trails Gervin by 18 leading into Saturday’s home game against Western Kentucky. – photo by Joe Alexander

“We were working pretty hard defensively,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “Had a few good stretches in the first half defensively. Had an eight or nine-point lead late in the half and then just had a horrible stretch. Second half we came out and I think we had 10 straight stops at one point.

“They had 17 points in a 13-minute stretch. We took away their transition and easy buckets. We were working pretty hard defensively.”

UTSA tied a school record with 67 boards, dominating the visitors 67-44. Atem Bio pulled down 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive end, and Byron Frohnen had nine.

On the defensive end of an ugly game, UTSA held Marshall to 33 percent shooting, including 21.9 percent in the second half.

The Roadrunners struggled shooting the ball, as well. They connected on 30 percent from the floor and 11.5 percent from long distance.

UTSA hit only 3 of 26 on three-point shots.

The Roadrunners essentially won the game at the free-throw line, making 21 of 26, including 15 of 18 in the second half.


UTSA 12-14, 6-7
Marshall 12-14, 6-7

First half

The Thundering Herd surged late in the half to build a 38-34 lead on the Roadrunners at intermission. Taevion Kinsey scored 17 of his game-high 27 points in the first 20 minutes.


UTSA guard Knox Hellums sat out with a fracture in the tip of his right thumb. Hellums suffered the injury in a road loss at Charlotte last Saturday.

By scoring 25 points, Jackson pulled to within striking distance of two school records.

He has scored 700 points for the year and is 18 shy of Derrick Gervin’s single-season record of 718, set in 1984-85. He also has 1,897 points for his career, 25 shy of Devin Brown’s 1,922 established from 1998-2002.

Wild times: UTSA outscores Marshall, 116-106, in OT

At one point Saturday night, the stars just didn’t seem to be aligned for UTSA coach Steve Henson to celebrate a happy birthday.

His team blew a four-point lead in the last eight seconds of regulation against the Marshall Thundering Herd.

But as it turned out, birthday No. 51 emerged as one for the books for Henson and the Roadrunners.

Keaton Wallace scored 14 of his career-high 45 points in overtime as UTSA knocked off Marshall, 116-106, in a Conference USA thriller at Huntington, West Virginia.

“Last game, coach got on us, so we knew we had to step up for him,” Wallace told a television reporter for Stadium College Basketball. “Today’s his birthday. We had to get a dub for coach.”

Two nights ago, Western Kentucky beat UTSA 96-88 in overtime to spoil a career-high 46-point effort from Roadrunners guard Jhivvan Jackson.

But on the back end of a memorable two-game road trip, Wallace broke the 40-point barrier for the first time in his career and Jackson scored 30, lifting the Roadrunners into a tie for second in the C-USA standings.

“Every time somebody asks me about Jhivvan, I talk about Keaton,” Henson told the television network. “Both those guys are doing great things for us this year. Keaton’s worked incredibly hard. He’s been special all year long.

“I’m not surprised that he would have a good game like that.

“It was good for our guys to gt that win after what happened to us on Thursday. The way it happened, it was pretty special for us.”

Old Dominion leads the C-USA at 8-3, followed by UTSA and North Texas at 7-3. UAB, Marshall and Western Kentucky are knotted at 6-4.


UTSA 13-10, 7-3
Marshall 13-10, 6-4


The game featured two of the most dynamic backcourts in the C-USA — Wallace and Jackson for UTSA and C.J. Burks and Jon Elmore for Marshall. Burks scored 31 points and Elmore produced 29, including a four-point play to force the overtime. Elmore hit a three from the wing, got fouled by Atem Bior with 3.1 seconds left, and then followed with the game-tying free throw.


“When we did not win in regulation, I was kicking myself over there,” Henson told UTSA’s radio broadcast. “Again, a couple of plays that we got to avoid. Plays we’ve got to make, to win in regulation … When it happens to you two times in three nights, it’s pretty hard to bounce back. I was really, really proud of the way they played really the whole second half, and especially overtime.”

And, finally …

Bior, a junior from Brisbane, Australia, produced his first career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He had eight defensive boards and four on the offensive end. He also had a steal and a blocked shot … UTSA snapped a string of three straight road losses, improving to 2-3 on the road in the C-USA … The Roadrunners are 10-3 in their last 13 games overall.

Marshall ends 31-year NCAA tournament dought

The Marshall Thundering Herd won the Conference USA basketball title Saturday night in Frisco, holding off Western Kentucky 67-66 in Frisco.

With the victory, the Herd qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1987.

Point guard Jon Elmore scored 27 points for the fourth-seeeded Herd (24-10).

Coach Dan D’Antoni’s team played well in the tournament, defeating the No. 5 UTSA Roadrunners, the No. 9 Southern Miss Golden Eagles and the No. 3 Hilltoppers on consecutive days at the Ford Center, in the Star.

Earlier this season, forecasters were projecting that both Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky would make the NCAA tournament out of the C-USA.

But both might now be looking at accepting bids from the less-prestigious NIT.

No. 1 Middle Tennessee (24-7) lost in the quarterfinals, and Western Kentucky (24-10) fell in the championship game despite scoring the last 11 points of the game.

Trailing by the eventual final score, the Hilltoppers missed two shots in the final 30 seconds.

Saturday’s scores

(Tournament finals)

Pac-12 — Arizona 75, USC 61

Western Athletic Conference — New Mexico State 72, Grand Canyon 58

Atlantic Coast Conference — Virginia 71, North Carolina 63

Southland Conference — Stephen F. Austin 59, Southeastern Louisiana 55

Conference USA — Marshall 67, Western Kentucky 66

Big Sky — Montana 82, Eastern Washington 65

Big East — Villanova 76, Providence 66, OT

Big 12 — Kansas 81, West Virginia 70

Mountain West — San Diego State 82, New Mexico 75

MAC — Buffalo 76, Toledo 66

America East – Maryland-Baltimore County 65, Vermont 62

MEAC — North Carolina Central 71,, Hampton 63

SWAC — Texas Southern 84, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 69

(Virginia is expected to be a No. 1 regional seed in the NCAA tournament, possibly the first overall).

Conference / NCAA automatic qualifier

Ohio Valley — Murray State (26-5)

Missouri Valley – Loyola-Chicago (28-5)

Big Ten — Michigan (28-7)

Big South — Radford (22-12)

Atlantic Sun — Lipscomb (23-9)

Southern — UNC Greensboro (27-7)

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference — Iona (20-13)

West Coast Conference — Gonzaga (30-4)

Horizon — Wright State (25-9)

Northeast — LIU Brooklyn (18-16)

Colonial Athletic Association — Charleston (26-7)

Summit — South Dakota State (28-6)

Patriot League — Bucknell (25-9)

America East — Maryland-Baltimore County (24-10)

MEAC — North Carolina Central (19-15)

SWAC — Texas Southern (15-19)

Big 12 — Kansas (27-7)

Mountain West — San Diego State (22-10)

Big East — Villanova (30-4)

MAC — Buffalo (26-8)

Conference USA — Marshall (24-10)

Southland — Stephen F. Austin (28-6)

Atlantic Coast — Virginia (31-2)

Big Sky — Montana (26-7)

Western Athletic Conference — New Mexico State (28-5)

Pac-12 — Arizona (27-7)

Marshall advances with 95-81 victory over UTSA

Playing from behind all night, the UTSA Roadrunners rallied furiously to pull within five points of the Marshall Thundering Herd in the closing minutes of the second half.

From there, the Roadrunners twice had chances to hit shots and make it a one-possession game.

But fourth-seeded Marshall held No. 5 UTSA scoreless on both tries, turning the stops into a 95-81 victory in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA men’s basketball tournament.

The tournament is being played in Frisco, in the Ford Center at the Star.

With the victory, Marshall (22-10) moves on to play ninth-seeded Southern Miss in a semifinal game set for 12:30 p.m. Friday.

Southern Miss (16-17) made the semis by shocking the top-seeded Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, 71-68, in overtime.

For UTSA (19-14), its dream of a berth in the NCAA tournament has been dashed.

But an opportunity looms to play in another postseason event, perhaps the National Invitation Tournament, the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com tournament.

Regardless, none of that was consolation to the Roadrunners, who put together their best season in six years, won the tournament opener Wednesday night against UTEP but then failed to sustain the momentum.

“Our guys are pretty disappointed in there, and I think that’s a good sign,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “They really believed we could come here and win a bunch of games and give ourselves a chance.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way. You know, we wouldn’t want guys to be in there content or coming over to this tournament not thinking we’re going to win it.

“So, they’re a little disappointed right now. Their heads are down.”

Henson told KTKR radio that “we’re kind of planning on playing in (another) tournament” early next week.

“So, we’ll have to bounce back real quickly,” he said. “You got to put this one behind you. The dream of the Big Dance (the NCAA tournament) is behind us now. We’ll go play some more good basketball.”

Guard C.J. Burks led Marshall with 29 points, hitting 9 of 16 from the field. Forward Ajdin Penava added 22 points.

On the glass, Penava dominated with 12 boards and Burks pulled down nine. Point guard Jon Elmore ran the show with 15 points and 11 assists.

“They’re a good team,” Henson said. “They just spread the floor so well. They made good plays.”

Getting off to a fast start, the Thundering Herd raced to an 18-point lead in the first half.

UTSA cut it to 11 at the intermission. But Marshall stepped on the gas again, building a 15-point margin seven minutes into the second half.

At that juncture, the Roadrunners started to play their best ball of the night. They rallied to within 74-69 when Giovanni De Nicolao hit a jumper.

But that was as close as it would get.

UTSA made a couple of stops, only to come up empty offensively when Deon Lyle missed a three, followed by De Nicolao having his runner blocked by Jannson Williams.

Williams followed his block with a free throw, and then a three-point shot, boosting Marshall into a nine-point lead. UTSA never got closer than six the rest of the way.

Playing without injured Jhivvan Jackson, the Roadrunners probably didn’t have enough weapons to win the tournament.

But forward Byron Frohnen had his second double-double in two nights with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Forward Nick Allen and guard George Willborn III also scored 16, with freshman Keaton Wallace coming off the bench for 13.

Lyle was held to 2-of-15 shooting and five points.

Jackson scores 23 to lead UTSA past Marshall, 81-77

Guard Jhivvan Jackson out-races a defender en route to the game-clinching basket with 43 seconds left.

Guard Jhivvan Jackson scored 23 points Thursday night, and the UTSA Roadrunners held off the Marshall Thundering Herd 81-77 at the Convocation Center.

The big play on the defensive end for UTSA came with less than a minute remaining courtesy of Giovanni De Nicolao.

Trailing by one, Marshall had the ball and a chance to take the lead.

De Nicolao had other ideas. He made a steal on the baseline, and UTSA advanced the ball quickly.

Jackson, on the dribble, out-raced a Marshall defender to the rim and scored a layup with 43 seconds left for an 80-77 UTSA lead.

Marshall’s C.J. Burks and Jon Elmore misfired on threes on the next two possessions to end the threat.

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace hit a free throw with a second left for the final point, as the Roadrunners won their second in a row and their third in four tries.

Consecutive victories over UAB and Marshall have boosted UTSA’s confidence leading into a Saturday home game against Western Kentucky.

“It just tells us we can come out here and beat anybody,” Jackson said. “We just got to keep playing the way we are, keep getting better on defense every day, and it just going to come out.”

UTSA 12-11, 5-5, T7 in C-USA
Marshall 14-8, 5-4, T5 in C-USA

UTSA did a good job in keeping Burks under control, but Elmore was hard to handle.

Elmore produced 23 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Herd. He hit five three-point buckets.

Burks, on the other hand, was held in check with 16 points. He made only six of 16 shots and misfired on all six three-point tries.

“They’re a really good offensive team,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “I’m proud of the way our guys hung in there.”

UTSA forward Deon Lyle hits a three out of the corner late in the first half against Marshall.

Playing in El Paso, the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers defeated the UTEP Miners, 72-60.

Justin Johnson, a 6-7, 245-pound forward, had 20 points and 12 rebounds for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers improved to 16-6 and 8-1 in conference, a half game behind Middle Tennessee.

UTSA’s Wallace states case as a play-making guard

UTSA’s Keaton Wallace shakes a defender to hit an 18-footer on Jan. 20 against UTEP.

UTSA freshman Keaton Wallace says he knows what to expect from the Marshall Thundering Herd.

“They like to play fast,” Wallace said. “They shoot a lot of threes, throw a lot of lobs.”

On the flip side, the Marshall coaching staff might not know exactly what to expect from Wallace and the Roadrunners when they meet tonight at 7 at the Convocation Center.

Is UTSA still the team that rushes the ball up the court and then allows one of its freshmen sharpshooters – Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson — to fire away from long distance?

Or, has UTSA’s fun-and-gun offense now been modified?

It’s hard to tell, after Wallace passed for a team season-high of 11 assists last Saturday in an eye-opening, 82-70 victory at Alabama-Birmingham.

As a team, the Roadrunners probably have never looked better in recent years than they did at UAB, when a crisp offense notched 24 assists on 32 field goals.

Wallace said it’s definitely the way he’d like to see the team play as it battles through the last month of the Conference USA schedule.

“That’s Roadrunner basketball,” Wallace said. “Moving the ball. Making open shots. Making plays for other teammates. Getting them open.”

But with powerful Marshall and Western Kentucky coming into San Antonio this week, can the Roadrunners keep it going?

“I feel like we’re locked in,” Wallace said. “We’re ready to play. I feel like we’re doing better things. We’re improving. We’re making better reads on offense and playing harder on defense, making the job easier for us.”

It’s certainly making the job easier for UTSA coach Steve Henson, who had been sweating a string of poor performances, particularly some poor offensive performances.

UTSA never looked worse this season than it did last Thursday in a 75-51 loss at Middle Tennessee State.

The Conference USA-leading Blue Raiders toyed with the Roadrunners, holding them to 34 percent shooting.

On the UTSA bench, Henson watched with some anxiety at the poor shot selection. So much so, that he spent all day last Friday trying to figure it out.

“You know, we kind of got tricked earlier in the year,” the coach said. “We had so many guys feeling good early, had so many guys shooting it well. You know, we just had easy shots.

“As the season went on, certain guys (weren’t) shooting it as well now as we were earlier, which affects everybody else.

“Defenses were getting better. Scouting reports were more specific. And we just (weren’t) running good offense.”

Shooting only 30.2 percent from the field in C-USA play, Wallace took the message to heart.

He emerged at UAB as a player intent on finding shots for his teammates.

In the first half alone, he passed for five assists, with four of them leading to three-point baskets.

How effective was he?

When Wallace entered the game, the Roadrunners led 4-1. When Henson took him out near the end of the half, they were up 37-22.

In the second half, the former backcourt standout at Richardson High School notched six more assists, with four resulting in layups.

As the team boarded the bus, they packed a few statistical oddities.

Giovanni De Nicolao, UTSA’s starting point guard and most consistent playmaker, had hit four three-pointers.

Wallace had only four points, but he had the most assists he’s ever had in a game in his life.

“Like I said, coach emphasized that we got to drive the ball more,” he said. “In previous games I’d been taking a lot of threes. So, he emphasized (that). He believes that I can drive the ball, that there’s more to my game than just shooting.

“I was driving it (against the Blazers), making the defense collapse and kicking it to my teammates. They were knocking down shots. So, credit to them.”

Wallace’s smooth shooting stroke from November and December still hasn’t re-emerged. He was only 2 for 7 against UAB. He took only one three pointer and missed it.

Henson, however, has hardly lost confidence in him.

The coach is staying with a player who has proven he can make a positive impact, one way or the other.

“When he locks in on trying to make shots for others, that helps him,” Henson said after Tuesday’s workout at UTSA. “He’s not going to lose his shooting ability. It’ll be big time when he gets all that stuff packaged together.

“Yeah, he’s got the ability to do what he did (at Birmingham). He did it today (in practice). He was really aggressive driving it.”

Wallace said, in a sense, the shooting slump has had its benefits in that it has sparked him in trying to improve in other phases.

“It forces you to adjust,” he said. “It forces me to think different. It forces me to do different things on the court.

“As far as not scoring as many points as I did before, now I have to think about getting a few more assists, a few more rebounds, so we can win those games.”

So, as his game evolves and the team faces a critical phase of its schedule, does he now consider himself more of a pass-first guard?

“Um, no,” Wallace said. “I wouldn’t say more of a pass-first guard. I would just say, making plays. A play-making guard.”

Freshman Keaton Wallace buries a three on Dec. 31 against North Texas.