SAN ANTONIO – The UTSA men’s basketball team (8-13, 2-7 AAC) fought its way back from a 16-point deficit in the second half against Rice (9-13, 3-7 AAC), closing the gap to just a single possession in the final minute of Saturday’s conference rematch at the Convocation Center. Trailing just four in the closing seconds after erasing a double-digit deficit, the Roadrunners couldn’t find the bottom of the basket to finish the comeback, falling to the Owls, 80-76, and splitting the series on the year.
Rice came out firing from long range from the onset and jumped to a 9-2 advantage in the opening minutes of Saturday’s game. However, PJ Carter kicked the offense into gear with a clean triple from the left side, followed by another from Isaiah Wyatt and a pull-up jumper from Jordan Ivy-Curry that edged the Roadrunners in front, 10-9. The first of three dunks from Trey Edmonds extended the lead to four after collecting the free throw on the play. The Owls scrambled back to a pair of ties, and back-to-back Edmonds buckets created the final tie at 19-all. However, UTSA’s offense stumbled just beyond the 10-minute mark and Travis Evee scored eight to lead Rice on a 12-4 run across the next six minutes. An 8-2 Owls push to close the final three minutes set a 39-28 advantage at the break.
Both teams opened the second half 4-for-5, but the Owls shot all of theirs from the perimeter, allowing Rice to reach a 16-point advantage four times in the first seven minutes of the half. However, the Roadrunners picked up the space and chipped the deficit to seven on three separate occasions over next four-minute stretch. However, the Owls capitalized on a pair of UTSA turnovers to rebuild their lead out to 15.
Despite the deficit, UTSA rallied on both ends of the floor and clawed back into the game, beginning with Carlton Linguard Jr.’s putback with 4:43 to go. Christian Tucker’s free throws allowed the Roadrunners to score without the clock moving and Linguard’s dunk at 3:34 moved the game back to single digits for the first time in six minutes. After Ivy-Curry scored five straight for the Roadrunners, a second-chance Linguard layup trimmed the count to five points. Ivy-Curry pulled up in the paint on the next possession for a three-point game. With :39 on the clock, Mekhi Mason dropped a three to halt a 15-3 UTSA scoring drive. However, the next time up the floor, Adante' Holimandrained a triple in the corner for the two-point difference. Rice’s Anthony Selden was fouled and put down the Owls’ two most crucial free throws with 21 seconds remaining. The Roadrunners got four chances at the bucket on the ensuing possession, but nothing would fall, sealing the 80-76 Rice win.
The Roadrunners shot an efficient 54.5 percent from the field in the second half to fuel the comeback down the stretch. Ivy-Curry paced the UTSA scoring effort, dropping 19 points for his 10th double-figure performance in 12 appearances. Tucker also scored 14 with eight assists, shooting 50 percent from the field. Making his first appearance since Jan. 3 due to injury, Holiman scored 11 and was 3-for-4 from the perimeter. Rounding out UTSA’s top scorers, Edmonds finished with 10 points.
The Roadrunners travel north to face a new AAC foe, making their first appearance in Wichita since 2004, squaring off with the Wichita State Shockers on Feb. 7. Next on the slate is a nationally televised home date with East Carolina, Feb. 10 on ESPNU at the Convocation Center.
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