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.

Records

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.

Second-half

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.

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