SAN ANTONIO, Texas (WDAM) -The University of Southern Mississippi played to an all-too-familiar script Saturday afternoon at the University of Texas-San Antonio’s Convocation Center.
Fall behind by double digits. Claw back into contention. Fail to get enough defensive stops down the stretch. Watch helplessly as the opponent ices the game from the foul line.
USM, which trailed by 11 points in the first half and by as many as 15 with less than nine minutes left in the game, pulled within four points late, but saw UTSA knock down 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute to pin a 78-72 loss on the Golden Eagles.
The win gave the Roadrunners (7-8, 3-5 Conference USA) a sweep of the two-game men’s basketball series, as USM (7-8, 3-5) absorbed losses by five points and six points over the weekend.
“I’m heartbroken,” USM coach Jay Ladner said. “Two tough ones.
“You know, we get down, come back, get down, come back. Our guys battled back, but we’ve got to be more consistent.”
In the first half, the Golden Eagles erased an 11-point deficit to tie the game at 36-36 with 1:14 to play before the break on LaDavius Draine’s fourth 3-pointer of the half.
But UTSA guard Jhivvan Jackson knocked down a pair of treys in the final minute to give the Roadrunners a 42-36 halftime lead.
USM opened the second half with a 9-3 spurt to tie the game 45-45, before UTSA ripped off a 13-1 run for a 58-46 lead. After the Golden Eagles got back within 58-52, another 9-0 burst by the Roadrunners gave them the largest lead of the game, 67-52.
USM declined to go away, scrambling back to within four points twice in the final 14 seconds. But Jackson sank four free throws on six attempts and Jordan Ivy-Curry dropped in two more to help hold off the Golden Eagles.
“There’s no quit in them,” Ladner said of his players. “We fought ‘em ‘til the end.”
Ladner said UTSA’s 14 offensive rebounds and USM’s 14 turnovers loomed large, giving UTSA extra possessions in a tight ballgame.
For a second, consecutive day, Jackson led the Roadrunners’ offense, going for 24 points, six assists and four rebounds.
Ivy-Curry had 14 points and four rebounds for UTSA, while Keaton Wallace added 12 points and five rebounds
Draine led USM with 19 point and seven rebounds, while Tyler Stevenson posted his second, “double-double” in as many games with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
DeAndre Pinckney and Jaron Pierre Jr. each finished with 12 points. Pinckney added seven rebounds and two blocked shots, while Pierre had two assists and our rebounds.
The Golden Eagles upcoming schedule will prove an outlier, varying from C-USA’s COVID-19-driven, back-to-back conference games on Friday and Saturday.
Because USM is playing its “travel partner,” Louisiana Tech University, this week’s game will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in Hattiesburg and 2 p.m. Saturday in Ruston, La.