March 17, 2011 by staff
UTSA won the first victory of the school NCAA tournament game in any sport with a 70-61 victory Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio.
The Roadrunners are now -13 this season and -0 in March. They move on to play top-seeded Ohio State on Friday in Cleveland.
Melvin Johnson III scored a career-high 29 points to lead UTSA on “First Four” round and beyond to meet the Buckeyes.
“It seems that the last four or five games, I cannot make a move,” said Johnson. “I” SWISH “on the side of my shoes because I used to make plans. I might have to black out this time. ”
No need to change the shoes, not after the beginning of the NCAA tournament.
“No. 31, if it is on like it was tonight, it should be a game good enough” against Ohio State, Alabama State Jeff Middlebrooks said.
Against Alabama State (17-18), Johnson took advantage of every opening. The second year was a career high in the first half alone, when he outclassed the star-struck Hornets 25-21.
Middlebrooks and Tramayne Moorer had points apiece for Alabama State, which has the worst record in the expanded 68-team tournament.
“We let a guy get points in the first half,” said Moorer. “We were outclassed!”
The Roadrunners came to Dayton with a stated goal: UTSA had never won an NCAA tournament game of any kind. Now they have reason to raise a banner in their 4080-seat Convocation Center UTSA.
“Our first victory in a game of the NCAA tournament in any sport – we are very proud to be right now,” coach Brooks Thompson said.
Johnson might well choose to leave the spot to place the banner.
The 6-foot-5 did everything Wednesday. He scored off drives to the hoop, knocking riders to win all the points, barely missing the decisive first half. Johnson was 8 of 14 on the ground, making a field goal less than all the Hornets combined.
“Johnson has to look good after the air well, and he also made some tough shots,” Hornets coach Lewis Jackson said. “He got on a roll and it flowed to everyone.”
Johnson also learned to make four free throws after a pair of technicals on the Hornets. He made ‘em all, of course.
He even connected while sitting on the ground after being fouled in the second half. He returned to play the ball to the basket, and he went in he took only four shots in the second half.
Primary UTSA took control during a 17-4 opening round that brought the scent of an eruption at the University of Dayton Arena. The Roadrunners won of the first 18 rebounds on several occasions to give a second chance after a failure.
Johnson turned the extra chances in his show. He made a 3, which built the lead to 31-13. The next time the court he felt so comfortable that he quickly got out of 3 long that was short of the rim for one of his rare lack
If a handful of Alabama State fans chanted “Air Ball” Johnson turned and smiled. So does Thompson, who could not blame him for shooting immediately.
Johnson sent a stir in the crowd with a breakaway dunk wholesale who built the lead to 38-15 with 3:50 left in the first half and showed that the Hornets had no chance of him slowing down. By then, he had 21 points, three shy of his previous career high.
The weak point for the Alabama State? Robert Sanders tried to dunk off a rebound and missed, then hung on the rim and made a technical foul. Johnson made two free throws result.
UTSA head stretched to 28 points early in the second half. Alabama State went to a swarming full-court press and got the gap to 64-55 with 2:54 to go, but the return to neutral there.
The Hornets reached the NCAA tournament without ever having a winning record during the season.
UTSA entered the game in the right frame of mind.
“We are confident real,” sophomore guard Melvin Johnson III said Monday. “Right now we feel like we can compete with anybody.”
Senior guard Devin Gibson concurred on the level of confidence of the team heading into the game Alabama State.
“Very confident, very confident,” said Gibson. “Melvin, all he has been talking about here is playing Ohio State. All the guys are looking forward to that first win and go against the big boys.”
“Getting the first NCAA tournament victory for UTSA is a great achievement and we want to be the first team to do it.”
The Roadrunners are now -3 all-time in the tournament. UTSA lost to No. 3 seed Illinois in 1988, No. 1 Connecticut in and No. Stanford in. UTSA lost by only nine at Illinois (81-72), but was routed by the University of Connecticut (91-66) and Stanford (71-45).
The NCAA tournament has expanded its support from to 68 teams this year. Under the new format, the lowest seed in the tournament, or No. 65 to 68, will compete in two games and the last four of the 37 qualified at large will play in the other two.
“It’s great,” said Gibson. “This game kind of game you can get your feet wet for the next game.”
UTSA punched his ticket to the big dance by beating No. 1 seed McNeese Southland Conference final on Saturday. The Roadrunners, seeded No. 7, knocked off previously No. Northwestern State in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Sam Houston State in the semifinals.
Thompson, who completed his fifth season at UTSA, praised Gibson for what he has meant to the program.
“He is a student-athlete model,” said Thompson. “It’s our only senior, so I’m as happy as can be for him in his senior year, he had the opportunity to do so.
“He gave us these victories. He was the MVP of the tournament (conference). He put this team on his back and did a good job leading this basketball team, especially the last month of the season. ”
Grambling State beat Alabama -48 in the tournament Southwestern Athletic Conference finals and won of its last 12 games entering the match UTSA.
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