By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay
Shon Robinson hit a contested 6-foot jumper with two-tenths of a second left as the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals beat the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 67-66 Wednesday night.
As soon as he made the shot, Robinson celebrated with fans on the front row at UIW’s McDermott Center. But the game wasn’t over. Officials put two-tenths back on the clock.
The visiting team from Jacksonville, Ala., subsequently tried a long pass from the baseline to the other end that was batted away as the horn sounded, ending quite a dramatic contest.
On the day before Thanksgiving, UIW (3-2) nearly blew the home game that it seemingly had well in hand. Early in the second half, with 18:40 left on the clock, the Cardinals led by 18 points. They took a 42-24 lead at that juncture on two Sky Wicks free throws.
Undeterred, Jacksonville State (1-4) started to make a run. With 4:47 remaining, the Gamecocks cut the deficit to nine on a Quincy Clark step-back jumper.
UIW’s Josh Morgan made it a 10-point game 20 seconds later when he hit a free throw. But Jacksonville State would not go away. The Gamecocks surged on a KyKy Tandy-led 14-0 run to take a four-point lead. Tandy hit two long threes in the streak.
With Jacksonville State leading 66-62 and only 16 seconds left in the game, the momentum swung back to the home team, as UIW responded with a series of clutch plays to win it. First, Robinson hit two free throws. Next, Josiah Hammons stole an inbounds pass to give the ball back to the Cardinals.
After UIW’s Davante Davis missed two free throws, Robinson rebounded the second one and was fouled. Going to the line, Robinson made the second of two to bring the Cardinals to within 66-65 with 10.1 seconds left.
From there, UIW’s pressure on the inbounds kept Jacksonville State from salting away the victory. First, a trap in corner forced Jacksonville State to call time with 3.7 seconds left.
With Jax State inbounding again, Hammons got a hand on it, deflecting it off Jacksonville State and out of bounds with two seconds remaining. The critical call was upheld on an officials’ review at the monitor.
Next, Elijah Davis inbounded for UIW. Robinson, a 6-foot-9 graduate transfer from Austin Peay, flashed through the paint, caught the pass and curled back toward the basket. He pulled up, hung in the air for a moment and then sank the winning bucket.
The game on the UIW campus near downtown San Antonio served as an appetizer for three more days of holiday basketball starting Friday on the city’s Northwest side at UTSA. In a multi-team event billed as the Roadrunner/Cardinal Classic, Jacksonville State will play host UTSA at noon on Friday. On Saturday, UTSA will host UIW at 3 p.m. On Sunday, it will be UIW and Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. in a rematch.
UIW, under first-year coach Shane Heirman, has scored three consecutive victories. The first was at home over Division III Schreiner, 104-63. The next came on the road at Division I Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 100-81. Finally, UIW rallied at the end to claim a one-point thriller at home over Jacksonville State.
The Gamecocks are coached by Ray Harper, who played two seasons for the late Abe Lemons at Texas in 1980-81 and 1981-82. In ’81-’82, the Longhorns won their first 13 games and soared to No. 5 in the Associated Press poll. But after a season-ending knee injury to forward Mike Wacker, the Horns failed to make the NCAA tournament and Lemons was fired.
Harper went on to finish out his playing career at Kentucky Wesleyan and then started his head coaching career there, as well. He is 564-225 in 25 years as a head coach, part of it in NCAA Division II. Wacker once worked as an assistant coach at UTSA for the late Ken Burmeister and later went on to a long career as head coach at Judson High School. He coached six years at Texas Lutheran University before retiring in 2022.
UIW: Guard Sky Wicks, 21 points and four rebounds. Guard Josiah Hammons, 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Guard Josh Morgan, 10 points, two assists, two rebounds, two steals. Hammons hit five three-point shots and Morgan three. Forward Shon Robinson, seven points on one of seven shooting from the field.
Jacksonville State: Guard KyKy Tandy, 19 points on eight of 16 from the field. Guard Quincy Clark, 13 points on five of nine. Juwan Perdue, nine points and 10 rebounds.
Sky Wicks and Josiah Hammons combined for 20 points as the Cardinals, shooting 51.9 percent from the field, raced to a 38-24 halftime lead on the Gamecocks. Leading by one point, UIW stormed past Jacksonville State on a 21-8 run to close the half.