Twoinone

On Thursday, January 29, the UTSA Roadrunners (10-10, 4-5 C-USA) impressed in a convincing 69 – 58 comeback victory over Conference-USA (C-USA) rival, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (12-10, 5-4 C-USA).

UTSA’s Kaj-Björn Sherman had a big game in the win, scoring a game-high 20 points — 17 of which came in the second half — on an efficient 7-of-10 from the field. The seven-footer also added seven rebounds, four of which were offensive. The center’s biggest contribution was the energy he injected into the Roadrunners to spark their gutsy comeback win. “I never shut up when I’m on the court,” said Sherman with a laugh, describing what he brings to this team.

Sherman’s frontcourt mate, senior-forward Jeromie Hill, also had a huge game for the Roadrunners with 18 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, giving the Australian native his fourteenth career double-double, placing him fourth in C-USA. “He’s playing well, especially offensively,” remarked UTSA Head Coach Brooks Thompson on Hill.

The game was an offensive shootout early, with neither team gaining a lead larger than seven throughout the entire first half.

The Roadrunners were paced early by the stellar play of junior guard Ryan Bowie who led UTSA in scoring in the half with 12 points, all of which came consecutively from three.

Despite the play of Bowie, the Runners found themselves down by seven at halftime after being physically outmatched by the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee who scored 26 of their 38 first half points in the paint, and collected 25 rebounds to UTSA’s 11 by halftime.

“The first half they definitely got after us and we kind of lost our composure a little bit at the end of the half,” said Sherman remarking on the first half of the game.

The second half was the Sherman show, as the center made his presence felt early and often in the half scoring in a variety of ways, including a smooth mid-range jumper, a couple of clutch tip-ins, a beautiful post move on the low block and an emphatic dunk that sent the crowd roaring.

“I just took what the defense was giving me,” said Sherman on his big half, “17 points in the second half, I didn’t really do much in the first half but, this feels great right now,” he finished with a smile.

Bowie quietly had an impactful second half as well. Bowie, who cooled down offensively in the half scoring only four points, collected an impressive six rebounds.

On the strength of Sherman’s 17, with contributions from Bowie and Hill, the Roadrunners were able to dominate the second half by scoring 38 points on an ultra-efficient 59 percent shooting, erasing the seven point deficit and going on to secure a win.

“Our guys deserved to win. They played well,” stated Thompson. “We knew it was going to be tough and we’re fortunate to get out of here (with a win).”

The Roadrunners didn’t have much time to rest as they looked to secure back-to-back wins by defeating the UAB Blazers.

Against the Blazers, the Roadrunners were paced by Hill who secured his fifteenth career double-double in the game with 20 points and 10 rebounds, totals that were game-highs in both categories.

Despite the heroic efforts of Hill, UAB outmatched UTSA to come out the victors of a tightly contested battle, 65-57.

UTSA struggled to get into rhythm offensively. Aside from Sherman — who scored 13 — and Hill, no Roadrunners scored in double figures.

“They came with some energy and their defense effected us,” stated Head Coach Brooks Thompson on UTSA’s struggles. “I felt like a couple guys tried to do too much on their own. Not selfishly, but trying to get the team going. I think our offense didn’t flow,” Thompson continued.

UTSA had issues with handling the balanced offensive attack of UAB who had scoring contributions from all but one player that logged minutes. UAB sophomore guard Denzell Watts – who came into the game averaging only 3.6 points – scored a team high 17 points coming off the bench, adding to the 37 bench points for the Blazers, a total that dwarfed UTSA’s six bench points.

Coming with the momentum of the Middle Tennessee win, UTSA started the game playing very well and opened a 9-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game.

UTSA eventually cooled down, leading to a 12-0 run by the Blazers and to UAB’s first lead of the game at 25-24, and eventually the lead at halftime 33-29.

“They did a good job of pressuring us and getting us out of our offense. We’ve still got a lot of young guys, and that pressure gets to us,” said Hill on UAB’s defensive efforts.

In the second half, UAB opened up an eight point lead early and never looked back as they controlled much of the action in the second half, leading by as much as 14 points.

“Our problem is, we turned it over,” coach Thompson explained. “We were 14-23 from the free throw line… those are bad numbers if you want to win.”

After the game, Hill was visibly shaken after the tough loss. “That loss hurt a lot because I felt like tonight, we would get that win. That one hurt.” Despite the tough loss, Hill remained optimistic on the prospects of the team. “I still think we’re right there, we can beat anyone in our conference.” “We’ve come so far from October, getting blown out by teams we shouldn’t have… we’re ready to take that step and be contenders in this conference.”

UTSA looks to get back to their winning ways when they face off with the FIU Panthers on Thursday February 6, in Miami, Florida.

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