Roadrunners’ NCAA dreams are alive leading into Hattiesburg

Ian Bailey's second-inning home run. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ian Bailey crushes the first of his two home runs Saturday in UTSA’s regular-season ending victory over the UAB Blazers. UTSA (35-19 overall, 19-11 in Conference USA) will move into postseason play next week in Mississippi. The fifth-seeded Roadrunners are scheduled to open the C-USA tournament Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against the No. 4-seed FAU Owls. – Photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay

The UTSA Roadrunners completed the regular season in style on Saturday, by pitching well and by hitting four homers in a 12-2 victory over the UAB Blazers.

After polishing off the Blazers in a game called after seven innings on the run rule, UTSA players mingled with fans and friends, taking pictures and soaking up the moment.

Ulises Quiroga. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ulises Quiroga rocks and fires against the UAB Blazers. Quiroga pitched four innings, allowing only one run on two hits, to earn the victory. – Photo by Joe Alexander

It seemed like a perfect time to rattle off the essential numbers for the Roadrunners — a 35-19 record overall and, more importantly, a 19-11 finish in Conference USA.

“Sounds good to me,” UTSA coach Pat Hallmark said. “Sounds good.”

Beaten soundly on Thursday night by the Blazers, the Roadrunners rebounded to win Friday night and again Saturday to take two of three in the final series of the season and to establish themselves as one of the conference’s upper-echelon teams.

They’ll start play in Hattiesburg next Wednesday, competing in an eight-team, double-elimination event for the C-USA postseason crown. The Roadrunners are seeded fifth and will take on the four seed Florida Atlantic Owls in their opener.

The game is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pete Taylor Park.

The C-USA winner next week claims the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. But because of the Roadrunners’ strong play throughout the season — they were 48th in the national ratings percentage index on Sunday morning — they might not necessarily have to win the whole thing in Hattiesburg to make the 64-team national field.

It may only take two or three victories.

Kody Darcy. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Kody Darcy started at shortstop against UAB in the last game of the season at Roadrunner Field. At the plate, he contributed a sacrifice bunt that moved runners up in a two-run sixth and a two-run triple in the six-run seventh. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We got a little more work to do,” Hallmark said. “We’ve got some games ahead of us at the (C-USA) tournament. (We want to) get over there and win some and try to make an at-large (NCAA bid.) If nothing else, win four over there (for the title) and lock it up.”

UTSA’s dreams of becoming the school’s first NCAA tournament entry in baseball since 2013 were dimmed on Thursday night when UAB erupted for an 18-7 victory. In the loss, the Roadrunners looked sluggish. They gave up a couple of long home runs and made a season-high five errors.

But, as it turned out, they weren’t down for long. By Friday night, they re-discovered their home-field magic, hitting five home runs en route to a 7-2 victory to even the series. UTSA pounded three of the homers in a five-run eighth inning.

On Saturday, not only did they shut down the Blazers for the second game in a row, limiting the visitors to four hits, but they also kept bashing balls out of the park. The Roadrunners hit four more homers, including two of them by senior Ian Bailey.

Leyton Barry. UTSA beat UAB 12-2 on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in the final game of the Conference USA baseball regular season. - photo by Joe Alexander

Leyton Barry went four for four at the plate and stole two bases. Here, he’s safe after doubling and stealing third in the bottom of the second inning. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Hallmark was at a loss to explain the turn-around from a less-than-memorable Game One against the Blazers.

“That’s baseball,” the coach said. “You know, you don’t always play good. It’s a difficult game. And we’ve played mostly good. You’ve seen us enough to know we don’t always play good, but we play good more than we don’t.

“This weekend, you win two out of three against a tough team, a 30-win team, you got to feel pretty good about yourself.”


UAB 31-23, 13-17
UTSA 35-19, 19-11

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 23-7
Louisiana Tech 20-10
Old Dominion 19-11
Florida Atlantic 19-11
UTSA 19-11
Middle Tennessee 17-13
Charlotte 17-13
UAB 13-17

Coming up

UTSA will play next week in the Conference USA tournament. The site is Hattiesburg, Miss. First games are Wednesday.

Fifth-seeded UTSA plays four seed Florida Atlantic on Wednesday night. If it wins, it would advance to meet the winner between one-seed and regular-season champion Southern Miss and eight seed UAB. That winner’s bracket game would be Thursday night.

The double-elimination event will run for five days through next Sunday. The NCAA tournament field will be unveiled the following Monday, on May 30, with the first games in the regionals set for June 3.


UTSA has some concerns going into Hattiesburg, with ace reliever Simon Miller nursing a sore back that has kept him out of the lineup for the last five games. Also, a few other pitchers in the bullpen haven’t been available lately because of injuries and aren’t expected to be back. Thus, it may fall on the offense to carry the team.

One of the positive signs is the resurgence of Ian Bailey. Bailey, a graduate student from Stevens High School, went two for two on Saturday with two solo home runs to give him three homers in his last two games and a team-high 15 for the season. In three games against the Blazers, Bailey was locked in. In 10 at bats, he had six hits and four RBIs.

Other notable developments included solid pitching performances from Jacob Jimenez, Braylon Owens and Luke Malone on Friday and from Ryan Ward, Ulises Quiroga and Fischer Kingsbery on Saturday. Quiroga was particularly good, working four innnings, giving up only one run on two hits and striking out six in the series finale.


Bailey, who started his collegiate career at Grambling University in Louisiana, was humbled after the home finale by the greetings he received from family and friends in the wake of his last game at Roadrunner Field.

“Honestly, I’m just very thankful for all the support, not just for myself, but for the team in general,” he said. “Without these people, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I’m just super thankful that they came out to support the team.”

And how did he feel about the way the team played this weekend? “We came out slow (on Thursday). But over the course of the weekend … we just turned (on) another gear, especially last night. We just found another gear and hit our stride.”

What happened between Thursday night’s loss and Game Two on Friday night?

“I just think we all knew we weren’t playing to the best of our abilities,” Bailey said. “I just think we collectively wanted to do better. (On Friday) we came out with a lot more energy and a lot more pride, with a lot more confidence, and we got the job done.”

And what of his own performance, finding his power stroke after not hitting a home run in six straight games?

“This past week, I had been in a little rut. With Coach Hallmark and the coaches, we went to the cage and just ironed it out. I came out with a lot more confidence. I was just really trusting in my approach. Good things happened.”


Here are a few highlights from UTSA’s 12-2 victory Saturday over the UAB Blazers:

UTSA’s home run barrage sparks a 7-2 victory over UAB

UTSA's Kody Darcy (second from left) celebrates with teammates after his eighth-inning home run against UAB on Friday, May 20, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Kody Darcy (second from left) celebrates with teammates after his eighth-inning home run against the UAB Blazers – Photo by Joe Alexander

Struggling on offense in the middle innings, UTSA exploded for five runs in the bottom of the eighth Friday night and emerged with a 7-2 victory over the UAB Blazers at Roadrunner Field.

Chase Keng, Ian Bailey and Kody Darcy hit home runs in the inning to help the Roadrunners set a school single-season record with their 18th Conference USA victory.

Coming out of the bullpen, Luke Malone shut down UAB on no runs and two hits in the final 2 and 1/3 innings to earn the victory.

UTSA's Ian Bailey celebrates while rounding the bases on his eighth-inning home run against UAB on Friday, May 20, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Ian Bailey, a senior graduate student from Stevens High School, rounds the bases after hitting his team-high 13th home run of the season in the eighth inning. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Solo home runs from Shane Sirdashney in the first inning and Jonathan Tapia in the third propelled UTSA into an early 2-2 tie.

The five home runs for the Roadrunners tied a team season high established only one other time — on March 6 — in a 15-7 victory at home over the Southern Jaguars.

UTSA and UAB, with one win apiece, will play the finale of their C-USA weekend series at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.


UAB 31-22, 13-16
UTSA 34-19, 18-11

Coming up

Saturday — UAB at UTSA, 11:30 a.m.

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 22-7
Louisiana Tech 19-10
UTSA 18-11
Old Dominion 18-11
Florida Atlantic 18-11
Middle Tennessee 17-12
Charlotte 17-12
UAB 13-16


UTSA has been playing a C-USA schedule since the spring of 2014. Previously, the UTSA school record for C-USA single-season wins came in 2015 when the Roadrunners went 17-13.

This year’s Roadrunners had their first chance to get No. 18 in the series opener on Thursday night, but the Blazers denied them, putting together two big innings for an 18-7 victory.

On Friday night, the Roadrunners scored a run in the bottom of the third on a Tapia homer to tie the game 2-2. But from there, the bats went cold.

Blazers pitching held the Roadrunners hitless in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. In the seventh, Bailey led off with a double, and UTSA went on to put runners at second and third with one out. But the Roadrunners failed to score.

UTSA finally broke through in the eighth. Shane Sirdashney led off with a single to left. Ryan Flores legged out a bunt single, putting men at first and second. With Josh Killeen at the plate, both moved up on a wild pitch.

Killeen broke the tie with a fielder’s choice ground ball that brought Sirdashney in from third for a 3-2 UTSA lead.

At that point, the Roadrunners’ power game materialized with back-to-back homers. Chase Keng launched a two-run homer to right center and Bailey smoked a solo shot to left. One out later, Darcy connected on a solo shot to left for the 7-2 lead.

For Darcy, it was his second home run of the year. He hit the first one in the season opener on Feb. 18 at Tarleton State. Bailey has 13 homers on the season, while Keng has seven, Tapia six and Sirdashney five.

UAB throttles UTSA 18-7 as Josh Sears hits two long home runs

UAB first baseman Josh Sears had four hits including two home runs against UTSA on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UAB first baseman Josh Sears had four hits, including two home runs, as UAB opened a three-game series against UTSA with an 18-7 victory at Roadrunner Field. — Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners needed a victory to kick-start their drive into next week’s round of postseason play.

They also wanted to win to keep adding to their season-long record of success, to show the NCAA tournament committee that they are indeed a worthy choice for an at-large bid.

What they got, instead, was a dose of humility.

Josh Sears hammered two long home runs, and the UAB Blazers took advantage of five UTSA errors en route to an easy 18-7 victory Thursday night at Roadrunner Field.

“It’s always good to win (a series opener),” first-year UAB coach Casey Dunn said. “I thought Josh Sears did a really good job of driving in some runs and creating a couple of big offensive innings for us.

“And I was really pleased with (relief pitcher) Tyler O’Clair tonight. We had kind of pre-determined that (starter) Jackson (Reynolds) would only go two innings, getting him ready for the (Conference USA) tournament next week.

UTSA's Chase Keng had five hits including a double against UAB on Thursday, May 19, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA’s Chase Keng went five for five with two doubles to spark the home team. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

“You know, Tyler being able to come in and throw four innings and do it fairly cleanly — they took some good at-bats against us and scored a couple — but for him to get us to the seventh inning with the lead I thought was really big.”

Sears hit a solo home run in the second inning, a long ball belted high into the screen over the left field wall.

He added a single and scored a run in a six-run third. After a fly out in the fifth inning, Sears came to bat twice in a 10-run seventh. First time up, he singled and scored. Next, he added another monstrous blow to left, a three-run homer.

The two long balls increased his season home run total to 17. His four RBIs gave him 63.

Surely, going into Game Two of the series Friday and Game Three on Saturday, the Roadrunners will have his name circled. Or, underlined. Or, adorned with an asterisk. Or, something, when they display the UAB lineup card.

“Josh has real power,” Dunn said. “I think if you asked him, I think he’d probably tell you he’s underachieved this year for what his expectations are. You know, he was really hot early in the year for us. He scuffled here in conference play. Hopefully he can get it rolling … and be that threat in the middle of the order for us.”

The next two games loom large for the Roadrunners.

They probably need to win both of them, and then win at least a couple next week at the C-USA tournament, in order to receive serious consideration as an at-large candidate for the 64-team NCAA field.

Of course, UTSA could make the NCAAs by claiming the C-USA’s automatic bid.

But that would be the tough road, as the Roadrunners would need to win the tournament. The C-USA tournament is May 25-29 in Hattiesburg at Pete Taylor Park, the home of the regular-season Southern Miss Golden Eagles, who clinched the title Thursday night with a road victory against Middle Tennessee.

For the Blazers, the goal remains just to keep playing well and try to build some confidence and get the pitching ready. They’ve clinched a spot in the tournament with the eighth-best record and can’t move up or down. The Roadrunners, who were within one game of the C-USA lead last week, are locked in a five-way tie for third place in the standings.


UAB 31-21, 13-15
UTSA 33-19, 17-11

Conference USA leaders

Southern Miss 21-7
Louisiana Tech 18-10
UTSA 17-11
Old Dominion 17-11
FAU 17-11
Middle Tennessee 17-11
Charlotte 17-11
UAB 13-15

Coming up

Friday — UAB at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Saturday — UAB at UTSA, 11:30 a.m.

C-USA tournament

May 25 through May 29 — At Hattiesburg, Miss.


It was a tough outing for UTSA starting pitcher Daniel Garza, who suffered his first loss of the season. Garza (3-1) pitched three innings and was responsible for seven runs on seven hits. The Blazers touched him for six hits and six runs — four earned — in the third inning as the visitors started to blow the game open.

After the Blazers exploded for 10 runs against the UTSA bullpen in the top of the seventh, the Roadrunners trailed in the game, 17-3. UAB’s 18 runs were an opponent season high against UTSA. UTSA’s five errors tied a season high from an April 17 loss at Rice, in which the Roadrunners fell by a score of 16-7.

Abraham DeLeon emerged as a bright spot on the UTSA pitching staff. DeLeon, a redshirt sophomore from Spring, pitched three innings and allowed only one run on one hit. It was DeLeon’s first appearance since April 17.

Around the C-USA

The Southern Miss Golden Eagles have clinched the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the C-USA tournament. The Golden Eagles locked up the championship with a 9-4 victory at Middle Tennessee, coupled with an 11-3 loss by second-place Louisiana Tech at Charlotte. Southern Miss (39-14) has two more to play in the regular season, both at Middle Tennessee on Friday and Saturday, before returning home to prepare for the tournament.

UTSA hosts UAB and hopes to stay hot for the postseason

Playing for both momentum and the chance to stay alive for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, UTSA opens a three-game Conference USA series tonight at Roadrunner Field.

UTSA is scheduled to take on the visiting UAB Blazers tonight, Friday night and Saturday afternoon in advance of next week’s C-USA tournament.

The Roadrunners were eliminated from C-USA regular-season title contention by losing two of three on the road last week at Southern Mississippi.

At the same time, they still have much to play for, including an opportunity to keep alive hopes for both an at-large and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The winner of the C-USA tournament claims the league’s automatic bid into a 64-team national field.

In order to stay in contention for an NCAA at-large bid, UTSA likely needs to sweep or at least win two games against UAB this weekend, and then also win a couple of games in Hattiesburg next week, when eight teams convene for the C-USA tournament at Pete Taylor Park.

The tournament site in Hattiesburg is the home ball park of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, who lead the C-USA standings by two games over Louisiana Tech and by three over UTSA and Middle Tennessee with three to play in the regular season.

Southern Miss closes with three on the road at Middle Tennessee, while Louisiana Tech will play three at Charlotte.


UAB 30-21, 12-15
UTSA 33-18, 17-10

Coming up

Thursday — UAB at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Friday — UAB at UTSA, 6 p.m.
Saturday — UAB at UTSA, noon

C-USA leaders

Southern Miss 20-7
Louisiana Tech 18-9
UTSA 17-10
Middle Tennessee 17-10
Charlotte 16-11
Old Dominion 16-11
FAU 16-11
UAB 12-15


UTSA, under third-year coach Pat Hallmark, can set a school record for Conference USA victories in a single season if it can win tonight. The Roadrunners went 17-13 in 2015 under Coach Jason Marshall.

The C-USA is fifth in the nation in the NCAA’s ratings percentage index. With victories over Stanford, TCU, Texas State and Southern Miss, UTSA is 45th as a team. UAB is 93rd.

At-large bids into the NCAA tournament are determined by a selection committee. The tournament field is scheduled to be announced on May 30.

Opening games in the NCAA regionals would be on June 3. UTSA has made the NCAA tournament in baseball only three times (1994, 2005 and 2013).

All three times, the Roadrunners made it via the automatic bid, as tournament champions in the Southland Conference in ’94 and ’05 and in the Western Athletic Conference in ’13.

UAB Blazers pound it inside to down UTSA, 68-56

Dhieu Deing. UAB beat UTSA 68-56 on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Guard Dhieu Deing came off the bench to lead the UTSA Roadrunners with 16 points Thursday in a 68-56 loss to the UAB Blazers. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The UTSA Roadrunners sank six three-pointers in the first half and played the powerful UAB Blazers to within seven points at halftime.

After that, the shots did not fall as frequently as they would have liked.

As a result, the bigger and more athletic Blazers claimed a 68-56 victory at the UTSA Convocation Center, winning their 21st game of the season, while handing the embattled Roadrunners their 20th loss.

It is UTSA’s first 20-loss season in six years.

KJ Buffen. UAB beat UTSA 68-56 on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Forward KJ Buffen led the Blazers with 16 points. He hit 6 of 12 from the field and 4 of 5 at the free throw line. – Photo by Joe Alexander

The Roadrunners dug themselves a hole with 12 turnovers in the first half, allowing UAB to step up the pace of the game.

“We got to do a better job taking care of the ball, getting in the paint better and being stronger with the ball,” guard Erik Czumbel said.

The Blazers dominated the game inside, as they produced a 42-24 margin in points in the paint.

Forward KJ Buffen led UAB with 16 points, and guard Jordan Walker added 14. Guard Tavin Lovan and center Trey Jemison had 10 apiece.

For UTSA, guard Dhieu Deing scored 16 points. Center Jacob Germany had 14 points and seven rebounds. Czumbel added seven points, six assists and four rebounds.

In the first half, the Roadrunners stayed within reach by hitting 6 of 12 on three point attempts. After intermission, they made only 2 of 10 from behind the arc.

Lachlan Bofinger. UAB beat UTSA 68-56 on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA forward Lachlan Bofinger battles 7-foot, 260-pound center Trey Jemison of the UAB Blazers.- Photo by Joe Alexander

The Roadrunners were without high-scoring guard Jordan Ivy-Curry, who left the team on Tuesday and entered the transfer portal.

Ivy-Curry’s departure was the latest in a series of distractions that have haunted the team this season, but Czumbel said players are dealing with them.

“I think we’ve handled it the right way,” he said. “We keep sticking together. We have a bunch of good guys in our locker room. That’s not an issue. We just got to lock in on the basketball side of things.”

With the loss to the Blazers, the Roadrunners fell to 9-20 on the season, hitting the 20-loss mark for the first time since a Brooks Thompson-coached 2015-16 season, when they finished 5-27.

“We just got to stay together, keep being positive,” Czumbel said. “We still have a shot. We have chance to win the tournament. Anything is possible. We just got to get on a roll these next few games.”

UTSA hosts C-USA West Division leading North Texas and a good Rice team next week to close out the regular season.

Darius McNeill. UAB beat UTSA 68-56 on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Conference USA men's basketball at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

UTSA guard Darius McNeill produced eight points and two rebounds. McNeill played 33 minutes in the absence of Jordan Ivy-Curry, who has left the team and entered the transfer portal. – Photo by Joe Alexander

“We got tough opponents ahead of us,” Czumbel said. “That’s the good part. We have to face up to really good teams. It’s a challenge every night. I think we can improve and get ready for the tournament.”

First half

The Blazers made the most of their speed and athleticism, scoring 10 points on fast breaks as they assumed a 37-30 lead at intermission. UAB held a 22-10 edge in points in the paint.

Forward KJ Buffen scored 12 on 5 of 9 shooting. Michael Ertel and Jordan Walker scored seven apiece.

UAB took control early in the half with a 13-0 run. The spurt lifted the Blazers into a 26-14 lead when Ertel hit a shot in the paint with 8:35 remaining.

Jacob Germany, Darius McNeill, Dhieu Deing and Isaiah Addo-Ankrah paced the Roadrunners with six points apiece. Addo-Ankrah, Deing and McNeill all hit a couple of three pointers.


UTSA 9-20, 2-14
UAB 21-7, 11-4

Coming up

March 3 β€” North Texas at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 5 β€” Rice at UTSA, 2 p.m.

C-USA tournament

March 8 β€” Southern Miss vs. UTSA, at Frisco
March 9-12 β€” TBA

Roadrunners host the 20-win UAB Blazers tonight

Looking for a momentum-changing victory after losing 15 of their last 18 games, the UTSA Roadrunners take on the UAB Blazers tonight at 7 at the Convocation Center.

Beating the Blazers won’t be easy.

The visitors have won 20 games, and they boast an explosive offense that averages 80.5 points. Jordan ‘Jelly’ Walker leads the Blazers with 19.2 points 5 assists per game.

The Roadrunners are down to nine scholarship players — eight of whom are in the playing rotation — after starting guard Jordan Ivy-Curry left the program earlier in the week.

Nevertheless, UTSA center Jacob Germany has been a steady presence in the paint, and coach Steve Henson said his players continue to practice well.

The key will be finding some consistency in the last three regular-season games — all against some of the most talented teams in the Conference USA West division.

UTSA closes next week against North Texas and Rice. The Roadrunners will face the Southern Miss Golden Eagles in the first round of the tournament at Frisco. The game will be held March 8 at The Star in Frisco.


UTSA 9-19, 2-13
UAB 20-7, 10-4

Last time out

UTSA — Louisiana Tech hit a flurry of 3-point shots and downed the Roadrunners 95-71 on Saturday in Ruston, La. Jacob Germany had his eighth double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. It was Germany’s fourth double-double with 20 points or more.

UAB — The Blazers had a six point lead with 1:55 remaining and couldn’t hold on. The North Texas Mean Green rallied for a 58-57 victory Saturday in Birmingham, with Tylor Perry hitting a three with three seconds left. The Blazers were limited to 40 percent shooting, including only 3 of 11 from long distance.

Results in February

UTSA — Lost at Rice, 91-78; lost at North Texas, 69-45; lost at Middle Tennessee, 84-75; lost at home to Western Kentucky, 71-65; won at Southern Miss, 98-79 (overtime); lost at Louisiana Tech, 95-71.

UAB — Won at home vs. Middle Tennessee, 97-75; won at home vs. Southern Miss, 84-63; lost at Old Dominion, 81-72; won at home vs. Rice, 92-68; lost at home to North Texas, 58-57.

Coming up

Thursday — UAB at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 3 — North Texas at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 5 — Rice at UTSA, 2 p.m.

C-USA tournament

March 8 — Southern Miss vs. UTSA, at Frisco
March 9-12 — TBA


UAB routed UTSA 87-59 on Jan. 1 in Birmingham. The Roadrunners played that game with a starting lineup that included Germany, Ivy-Curry, Aleu Aleu, Dhieu Deing and Cedrick Alley Jr. Out of that group, only Germany and Deing will be available tonight. Ivy-Curry placed his name in the transfer portal on Wednesday. Aleu is out for the season with a knee injury. Alley has been ruled academically ineligible.

UAB shot 49.2 percent in the first meeting, with KJ Buffen scoring 20 points and Walker 19. Buffen also led the way on the boards.

Coach says Ivy-Curry ‘just felt like he need a fresh start’

HIgh-scoring sophomore guard Jordan Ivy-Curry has left the UTSA basketball program and has entered the transfer portal in hopes of catching on with another team.

“We sat down and talked yesterday,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said Wednesday. “He’s been over to compliance, a pretty simple process. Went over to compliance and signed the paperwork, so he is in the transfer portal as of yesterday afternoon.”

The issue with Ivy-Curry, a starter and one of the team’s leading scorers, has emerged as the latest in a string of misfortune to befall the Roadrunners this year.

UTSA has lost two players to season-ending injuries, Adrian Rodriguez in preseason camp and Aleu Aleu at midseason. Starting power forward Cedrick Alley Jr., ruled academically ineligible, was another midseason casualty.

Guard Dhieu Deing left the team and sat out seven games before deciding to return in late January.

In addition, the Roadrunners have had multiple interruptions with players going in and coming out of Covid-19 protocols. Given all the adversity, it’s not surprising that UTSA is 9-19 overall and 2-13 in Conference USA.

Henson said Ivy-Curry remains enrolled in classes.

“He needs to do that for his sake,” Henson said. “He’s done a really good job the last couple of weeks and is in great academic standing. As long as he handles it and I think he’s planning on handling it, his next step will be affected by what he does in the classroom.”

The coach said he doesn’t know where Ivy-Curry is looking for another opportunity.

“I don’t think he’s got a place in mind, is what he told us,” Henson said. “I think he’s going to wait and see what opportunities are there. He’ll have a bunch. Those people will start calling right away.”

Ivy-Curry averaged 13.9 points in 21 games this season. He sat out six games in Covid-19 protocols and one with a sprained ankle. Ivy-Curry, nicknamed ‘Juice’ for his ability to bring the energy, had played in limited minutes off the bench in the team’s last two games but was not 100 percent.

He didn’t practice this week and then came to Henson after Tuesday’s practice.

“Just felt like he wanted a fresh start,” Henson said. “We’re going to support him, love him and wish him well. He did some great things for our program. He’ll have a lot of success at his next stop, wherever that might be.

“We’ll be pulling for him and cheering for him.”


UTSA 9-19, 2-13
UAB 20-7, 10-4

Coming up

Thursday — UAB at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 3 — North Texas at UTSA, 7 p.m.
March 5 — Rice at UTSA, 2 p.m.

C-USA tournament

March 8 — Southern Miss vs. UTSA, at Frisco
March 9-12 — TBA

UTSA women rally past UAB, 68-60, in overtime

The UTSA women’s basketball program celebrated New Year’s Day on Saturday with a comeback victory over the UAB Blazers.

Trailing by 10 points with seven minutes left in regulation, the Roadrunners rallied to win 68-60 in overtime at the Convocation Center.

The Blazers, at one point, appeared well on their way to victory when Lindsey Dullard sank a 3-pointer for a 45-35 lead with 7:06 left in the fourth period.

From there, the Roadrunners staged a dramatic rally, outscoring the Blazers 18-8 down the stretch to send the game into overtime.

A follow shot by UTSA’s Elena Blanding with 56 seconds remaining tied it, 53-53.

Relying on defense, the Roadrunners stopped UAB from scoring twice down the stretch and nearly won at the end, only to have Leslie Hunter misfire on a three at the buzzer.

In overtime, UTSA rode the shooting of Jadyn Pimentel and Charlene Mass to a five-point lead.

Undeterred, UAB came from behind, pulling to within 62-60 on a Margaret Whitley three with 29 seconds left.

UTSA steadied itself by scoring the game’s last six points, as Pimentel, Chantel Govan and Hailey Atwood sank a pair of free throws each to clinch it.

It was a signature win for the Roadrunners and the first for Coach Karen Aston at UTSA in a C-USA contest.


UAB 8-5, 1-1
UTSA 4-9, 1-1


UAB: Zakyia Weathersby 14 points, Margaret Whitley (13), Lindsey Dullard (10). Weathersby, 16 rebounds.

UTSA: Jadyn Pimentel, 21 points, LaPraisjah Johnson (16), Chantel Govan (11). Johnson, 11 rebounds, including six offensive.

UAB Blazers roll to an 87-59 victory over the Roadrunners

The UTSA Roadrunners entered Saturday’s Conference USA opener with a positive attitude and a fighting spirit.

But after the Roadrunners stayed in the game for about five minutes, it didn’t take long for the C-USA’s preseason favorite UAB Blazers to respond, and they did so with a swarming defense and an impressive array of offensive talent.

In the end, the Blazers built a lead as large as 31 points in the final minutes, eventually emerging with an 87-59 victory at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala.

Forward KJ Buffen scored 20 points and guard Jordan “Jelly” Walker added 19 as the Blazers improved their record to 12-3 and 2-0 in the C-USA.

UTSA lost its third straight and fell to 6-7 and 0-1 despite a strong effort from center Jacob Germany, who scored 26 points on 12 of 23 shooting from the field.

Germany also had 10 rebounds for a double-double.

A lot went wrong for the Roadrunners, including 34.9 percent shooting as a team and scoring off the bench that was minimal until the very end when UAB led by more than 20 points.

The Roadrunners also needed a better rebounding effort and didn’t get it, losing the battle of the boards, 45-33.

UTSA coach Steve Henson pointed to an inability early in the game to attack the UAB pressure as a key development.

“They lead the country in forcing turnovers, and we fed right into that early,” Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “Then we gave up a bunch of offensive rebounds … We ended up with only 12 turnovers against a team that’s really good at forcing turnovers, but they led to layups and dunks.”

A variety of defensive strategies by the Blazers also seemed to disrupt the Roadrunners, who had to take point guard Jordan Ivy-Curry out early with foul trouble and replace him with a freshman, Christian Tucker.

“They mix their defenses,” Henson said. “Once you start getting comfortable handling the press, then you got to get into your offense. We were just not sharp enough.”

Buffen, a transfer from Ole Miss, hurt the Roadrunners in multiple ways. Not only did he hit 8 of 12 shots from the field, he also pulled down nine rebounds, including four on the offensive glass.

Another transfer, Walker, who has played previously at Seton Hall and Tulane, also stood out for UAB.

He hit four 3-point shots to highlight a 10-of-21 Blazers’ effort from long distance. Comparatively, the Roadrunners hit only 2 of 15 from deep.

Even though the Blazers are regarded as the best team in the conference, it’s hard to tell if they were that good against the Roadrunners. Or, whether the Roadrunners simply have a long way to go.

UTSA has lost three straight by margins of 18, 17 and 28 points.

During the stretch of losses — to UT Rio Grande Valley, Illinois State and UAB — the Roadrunners have hit only 66 of 203 shots from the field, for 32.5 percent.

As the UTSA player who typically faces the most defensive pressure, guard Dhieu Deing is 8 of 45 shooting in the three games. Deing was 0 for 11 against the Blazers.


UTSA 6-7, 0-1
UAB 12-3, 2-0

First half

After sitting out two straight games in Covid protocols, Ivy-Curry put on the jersey to play a game for the first time since Dec. 11. He immediately made an impact by burying a three for a 3-0 Roadrunners’ lead. After that, Ivy-Curry picked up two quick fouls. Forced to the bench, he watched for several minutes as the Blazers started to roll. When they weren’t disrupting UTSA, they were all over the offensive glass. Eventually, they rolled to a 49-31 lead behind Buffen and Walker.

Changing up the rotation

Starting for the first time this season, Aleu Aleu finished with six points, four rebounds and two assists in 26 minutes. He was held without a field goal (0-for-5) but knocked down all six free throws. Both Ivy-Curry and Aleu were returning to game action after sitting out the last two in Covid-19 protocols. Ivy-Curry, battling foul trouble, scored nine points on 3 of 10 shooting. He hit 2 of 7 from three.

Covid update

UTSA forward Phoenix Ford entered protocols last week and did not travel. He is also expected to be out Monday at home when UTSA hosts Dallas Christian. UTSA hopes to have Ford back on the floor on Thursday for a return to C-USA play against Southern Miss.

Coming up

Monday — Dallas Christian at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Thursday — Southern Miss at UTSA, 7 p.m.
Saturday — Louisiana Tech at UTSA, 3 p.m.

Wallace joins Jackson in a 2K tandem as UTSA rolls past UAB

UTSA beat UAB 96-79 in Conference USA on the Roadrunners' senior day for Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Phoenix Ford on Feb. 27, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace (left) joined Jhivvan Jackson in the 2,000-career point club on ‘Senior Day’ Saturday, when the Roadrunners rebounded from an ugly loss on Friday night to blow out the UAB Blazers. – photo by Joe Alexander

Leave it to UTSA senior guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. Only those two could light up a drafty, old gymnasium and turn an overcast Saturday afternoon into one for the memory banks.

First, Wallace eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for his career mid-way through the second half against the UAB Blazers.

A few minutes later, Jackson unleashed a flurry of buckets to climb past 2,500 points. In the end, the Roadrunners played perhaps their best game of the season in claiming a convincing 96-79 ‘Senior Day’ victory over a 19-win team.

Keaton Wallace. UTSA beat UAB 96-79 in Conference USA on the Roadrunners' senior day for Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Phoenix Ford on Feb. 27, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Keaton Wallace produced 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in what may have been his last home game. — Photo by Joe Alexander

If it was indeed the last time for Jackson and Wallace to grace the court at the UTSA Convocation Center, then it was done with appropriate style and flair, complete with a wave from the two of them to a Covid-19 restricted crowd of 394 as they walked off to the dressing room.

As fans cheered to hail UTSA’s newly-minted 2K tandem, UTSA coach Steve Henson offered his thanks, as well.

“We all know we got a lot of basketball left,” Henson said. “They’re going to have some emotional moments with their families right now. I was thanking them, and they were thanking me. Just appreciate everything they’ve done for this program.”

Jackson led the rout with 32 points, and Wallace added 22. As a team, the Roadrunners showed impressive resilience in bouncing back from a bad loss Friday to salvage a split in their two-game series with the Blazers.

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat UAB 96-79 in Conference USA on the Roadrunners' senior day for Jhivvan Jackson, Keaton Wallace and Phoenix Ford on Feb. 27, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson, held to 12 points in Friday’s loss to the Blazers, bounced back to score 32 on Saturday. — Photo by Joe Alexander.

“Pretty fitting for them to finish it off this way in the Convo (with) monster nights from both of them,” Henson said. “You know, they came in here four years ago and started making baskets and they just kept it going … There were a lot of nights when one or the other was clicking … But to have both of them have monster nights on Senior Day is very, very special.

“They have changed the perception, I think, of our program. You know, they allowed us to play fast, the way we said we were going to play. They’ve allowed us to shoot a lot of threes. They’ve allowed us to do a lot of things we said we were going to do when we recruited them four years ago. They’ve been great ambassadors.

“They’ve handled their business. They’ve both done a great job in the classroom. They’re great Roadrunners.”

Turning the tables

UTSA played one of its best stretches of the season against a quality opponent in the first half, shooting 50 percent from the field and rolling to a 42-33 intermission lead.

Spacing the floor and taking care of the ball, the Roadrunners hit 17 of 34 shots, including 5 of 9 from three. In one span of a little more than seven minutes, UTSA produced a 16-0 streak against the Blazers, the top defensive team in Conference USA.

All of a sudden, an eight-point deficit for UTSA turned into a 23-15 lead.

The Blazers never got closer than five the rest of the way. With the Roadrunners shooting 65.6 percent in the second half, they pushed the lead to as many as 22, quite the turnaround from Friday night, when the Blazers claimed a 64-57 victory on the same floor.


UAB 19-6, 11-5
UTSA 13-10, 9-7

Coming up

The Roadrunners likely will not make up two games against Charlotte that were scratched last week because of the winter storm. But they could possibly schedule a non-conference game next week. Many C-USA teams will play make-ups next week for games that were lost to Covid-19 postponements. The C-USA is expected to announce next weekend the bracket for the tournament. All 14 teams — seven in each division — will be invited. The tournament is March 9-13 at Frisco.

For the record

When the Roadrunners came out in the second half, they unleashed a series of defensive plays that sparked a surge. First, the 6-foot Jackson soared high in an attempt to block a dunk attempt. Though he was called for a foul, the play clearly sent a message. On UAB’s next possession, 6-11 UTSA center Jacob Germany rejected UAB’s 7-foot Trey Jemison. Next time down, UAB’s Quan Jackson was rejected by UTSA forward Cedrick Alley, Jr.

It all translated into a rush of momentum for the Roadrunners. With 12:08 remaining, Wallace hit a three that made him the 615th player in Division I basketball history to reach 2,000 points. Later, as Jackson connected on a long ball with 10:06 left, he simultaneously hit the 2,500 mark and moved into No. 1 in C-USA history in three-point makes. When the day was done, Jackson had totaled 2,505 points and Wallace 2,007.

Having the last word

Jackson finished his day’s work by hitting 13 of 21 from the field and six of 10 from three. He described a flood of emotions when he and Wallace came off the floor for the last time with 2:26 remaining.

“You know, I kind of wanted to finish the game out, just because they got us yesterday, and, beating us every single year, in the Conference USA,” he said. “But, man, I was grateful. I kind of took this game as just a regular game. I was kind of pissed about yesterday. We played the right way yesterday. We (just) had a little too many turnovers. If we make even half our shots, we win.

“So, our mentality today was just getting no turnovers. You know, we only got nine in the whole game (today) … And we just got stops. That’s the reason we won today. We were stopping them. We held (down) their best player (Tavin Lovan, to seven points). That just helped us. We were just the tougher team today.”

Wallace punctuated his 22 points with seven rebounds and seven assists. He hit 8 of 13 from the floor and 3 of 4 from distance. “It’s just a blessing to be able to make history at our school,” he said. “Just for two guys to score the ball like we do, in the same backcourt, is big time. It speaks volumes. I just appreciate all the support. All the love from the fans. The staff. My teammates. And my family. You know, Birds up.”


UTSA freshman guard Jordan Ivy-Curry scored 13 points on three 3-pointers. He also grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists over 23 minutes. Junior Eric Parrish had 10 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes. Sophomore center Jacob Germany had a team-leading eight rebounds to go along with eight points.

Jalen Benjamin scored 21 points to lead the Blazers. Tyreek Scott-Grayson had 13 points, followed by Trey Jemison with 11 and Michael Ertel 10. Scott-Grayson and Tavin Lovan, both guards, have been key players on UAB teams that were 5-3 against UTSA over the past four seasons before Saturday. The Blazers have knocked the Roadrunners out of the C-USA tournament each of the past two seasons.