— By David Walsh
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — UTSA let one get away Thursday night. This time things would be different for the Roadrunners.
Marshall got a four-point play by Jon Elmore with 4 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 92-92. The Roadrunners then turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, giving the Thundering Herd a shot to complete the miracle comeback in the anticipated Conference USA shootout in front of 7,182 fans inside Henderson Center. However, Rondale Watson’s jumper rimmed out and that meant overtime.
In overtime, guard Keaton Wallace scored 14 of his career-high 45 points and the Roadrunners made all five shots (3 of 3 from three-point range) and converted 11 of 12 free throws to secure a 116-106 victory.
On Thursday, UTSA led Western Kentucky by 4 points late, only to see the Hilltoppers force a tie at the end of regulation, then pull away for an overtime win.
Wallace’s fellow guard, Jhivvan Jackson, added 30 points after hitting for a career-best 46 against Western Kentucky. The two combined to make 25-of-47 shots (9-of-20 from three-point range). Wallace converted 11-of-12 free throws and the 6-foot Jackson went 5-for-5 and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds.
“It was a game of made shots. They made more big ones than we did,” Marshall coach Dan D’Antoni said. “We had looks. We had a great look at the end of regulation. It (shot) was down and out. That’s what happens.”
UTSA (13-10, 7-3 C- USA) shot 54 percent (39-of-72) from the floor, made 10-of-23 (43 percent) from beyond the arc and converted 28-of-35 (80 percent) at the line and also posted a 49-35 edge on the glass.
Marshall’s guard tandem of Elmore and Burks teammed for 60 points. Burks had 31 and Elmore 29. They combined for 22 of 47 from the field and 8 of 20 from behind the arc. Watson finished with 19 points and Taevion Kinsey 18. The Herd hit 42-of-83 shots and 13-of-37 from three.
“They shot the heck out of the ball,” Elmore said. “We didn’t do a good job. Gave up way too many uncontested shots. We live and die with guys making shots. We hope they’ll shoot it again. We trust them.”
D’Antoni said his players must do a better job of contesting shots.
“Can’t sit down in front of the shooter,” D’Antoni said. “Can’t let them loft a three. Got to make them drive, put the ball on the floor. Those two (Keaton and Jackson) can play.”
UTSA coach Steve Henson was quite relieved when the final horn sounded, especially after the way the Herd forced overtime.
“I had that sick feeling,” Henson said, thinking about Elmore’s 4-point play, the turnover when Jackson lost the ball out of bounds and Watson’s shot nearly dropping. “At Western we’re up 4 late and lose. It was concerning going into OT. The team rallied back. They have the momentum going in, but our guys reestablished it in overtime. Sitting on our side you feel a little better. We hung in and found a way to get the win.”
Saturday’s game featured seven ties and 22 lead changes. UTSA was playing its second straight OT game for the first time since 2004. The 116 points marked the most for the Roadrunners in a C-USA contest. This is the Herd’s first loss when scoring 90 or more points (6-1).
In overtime, the lead changed hands six times before UTSA used a 7-0 run to take the lead for good (104-98). The stretch began with a Wallace layup that made it 99-98 with 3:20 left and ended with a pair of free throws by Byron Frohnen at the 2:11 mark. The Roadrunners held on by making 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch.
“Jhivvan gets all the attention and rightfully so,” Henson said. “Keaton’s coming on. He does so many things. I envisioned him putting up numbers, but I didn’t expect that. He’s capable.” The 6-3 Wallace entered the game averaging 19.5 points a game.
Marshall (13-10, 6-4 C-USA) returns to action Thursday night against North Texas in Denton. Game time is 8 p.m. The two-game Texas swing ends Saturday against Rice in Houston. Tipoff is 8 p.m.
Old Dominion leads C-USA at 8-3. UTSA and North Texas follow at 7-3 with UAB, the Herd and WKU each 6-4. UTSA now has a 4-3 series lead against the Herd.