The UTSA Roadrunners wanted to play all weekend in Frisco, if they could.
And, for most of the first half Thursday night, it looked as if they might have the right mojo to make a strong run in the Conference USA basketball tournament.
The UAB Blazers had other ideas.
Guard Zack Bryant produced 24 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the fifth-seeded Blazers, down by seven at intermission, rallied to eliminate the No. 4 Roadrunners, 85-76, in the tournament quarterfinals.
Coming on strong late in the game played at The Star in Frisco, the Blazers shot 50 percent from the field and hit six three-point shots in the second half.
As a result, UAB will advance to take on the top-seeded Old Dominion Monarchs in Friday’s semifinals.
Jhivvan Jackson led the Roadrunners with 35 points on 9 of 24 shooting from the field. Keaton Wallace shot 5 of 14 from the floor and finished with 12 points.
Jackson left the game for a few minutes early in the second half after turning his ankle. It was a key sequence for the Roadrunners, who lost the lead and never recovered.
UAB held UTSA to 11 of 33 shooting from the floor after intermission.
Jackson came out firing in his first C-USA tournament game.
The 6-foot guard from Puerto Rico scored 21 points in the first half as the Roadrunners built a 42-35 lead.
Trailing by 12 points early and by 11 on a few more occasions, the Blazers rallied with a Tyreek Scott-Grayson-fueled 6-0 run in the last few minutes.
Scott-Grayson hit two shots in the run. UTSA answered with a Giovanni De Nicolao layup with 29 seconds to account for the final points in the half.
It’s possible that UTSA could get a bid to either the College Basketball Invitational or the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament. But UTSA coach Steve Henson didn’t say for certain that the team would play again this season. As for the Blazers, they’ll face the Monarchs in Friday’s C-USA semifinals. Old Dominion escaped Louisiana Tech, 57-56, on a three in the final seconds by point guard Ahmad Caver.
UTSA was limited at the outset with Nick Allen trying to play on a fractured toe. But things got worse as the game went on, with Atem Bior getting in early foul trouble and then Byron Frohnen and Adrian Rodriguez suffering minor injuries in the second half. Taking advantage in the paint, UAB outrebounded UTSA, 42-30, including 17-9 on the offensive glass.
“They just exerted their will and just crushed us on the glass (in) both halves. Drove it at us. Drove it at us. Drove it at us. And they mixed in some threes … Just overpowered us. You know, rebounding, driving at us and getting to the free-throw line … They dictated everything in the secod half in terms of physicality.’ — UTSA coach Steve Henson