UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson strips Omega Harris and races for a layup, giving the Roadrunners a three-point lead with 12 seconds left.
Freshman guard Keaton Wallace broke out of a scoring slump with 20 points, and the UTSA Roadrunners ended a three-game losing streak with a 65-61 victory Saturday night over the UTEP Miners.
The lead changed hands three times in the final minute of a tense contest played before a season-high crowd of 2,210 at the UTSA Convocation Center.
Forward forward Nick Allen hit a short runner in the lane with 24 seconds left as the Roadrunners took the lead for good, 62-61, with 24 seconds remaining.
On UTEP’s next possession, UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson picked up a steal and drove three quarters of the court for a layup, making it a three-point game.
In response, UTEP went to Isiah Osborne, who hit five three-pointers in the game.
But Osborne missed a three from the top of the key with four seconds left, effectively sealing UTSA’s first victory since Jan. 4.
UTSA made a free throw on the other end for the last point and then celebrated.
“It feels good,” UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao said. “It feels good, because we needed it. When we were minus one with two minutes (left), we were talking on the bench (saying) we got to win this.
“We can’t keep losing close games.”
UTSA junior forward Nick Allen weaves through traffic to hit a short runner as the Roadrunners take the lead, 62-61, with 24 seconds left.
With the Conference USA regular season a little more than a third of the way complete, UTSA (10-10, 3-4) tinkered with its rotation.
Coach Steve Henson elected to insert Jackson into the starting five for the first time and bring Wallace off the bench.
The Miners (7-12, 2-5) seemed to have the answers to anything Roadrunners threw at them early, jumping out to a 21-5 lead after the first eight minutes.
But when Wallace entered the game and teamed with Jackson and Deon Lyle to spread out the UTEP defense, the momentum shifted.
Wallace scored 12 in the first half as the Roadrunners rallied to make it a four-point game, with UTEP leading 42-38 at intermission.
The Miners surged again after intermission, scoring seven in a row to boost their lead to 49-40.
Not to be denied, UTSA answered by slugging it out in a slow, methodical push for a 14-4 run.
De Nicolao capped the streak with back-to-back driving layups that pushed the Roadrunners back out front, 54-53, including a nifty, go-ahead bucket when he sliced into the paint and twisted a reverse off the glass.
UTSA sophomore Giovanni De Nicolao seemingly made all the right moves down the stretch. Here, he twists a reverse layup off the glass to give UTSA a 54-53 lead.
The story of the game might have been Wallace, the talented lefty from Richardson who had shot 3 for 25 from the field over his last three games.
Extended back to his last six, he had been 16 of 60.
Wallace put all that behind him against the Miners, nailing 7 of 12 from the field and 3 of 7 from three.
UTSA freshman Keaton Wallace gets open and sinks a foul-line jumper in the first half against UTEP.