UTSA’s March Madness has come to an end as they gave up a commanding lead to fall to an East Carolina comeback, losing 79-76 in the opening round of the CUSA Men’s Basketball Championship.
Devon Agusi was impressive in the season ender for the Roadrunners as he hit 21 points, 15 of those coming through 3-pointers, with all five starters (Jordan Sims 12, Phillip Jones, Edrico McGregor 11, Keon Lewis 10) managing double figures.
UTSA managed to shoot at 65.4% in the first half, a season high, that saw them build up an 18 point lead; but they were let down by the second half as they only shot at 30.8%.
For the Pirates, Akeem Richmond did the main damage as he broke a CUSA single game record with 11 3-pointers as part of his 36 points, breaking another CUSA record, most treys in a season, in the process.
UTSA stunned ECU in the opening stages of the game, hitting nine of their first 10 attempts, taking the lead at 3-2, and they never gave up on that lead throughout the first half.
After a Richmond 3-pointer, Agusi responded in kind at that started an 11-0 run that looked to give the Roadrunners firm control of the game, putting them 19-5 in front.
McGregor scored twice with a basket and a three-point play followed by a Jones steal which allowed Agusi to drain one again, the run ending with a Jones free.
The lead didn’t dip below 10 the rest of the half, with UTSA pushing it out as far as 18 with a 10-3 run that ended with Hyji Thomas getting reward for an offensive rebound.
ECU managed a rally either side of half time that saw them jump ahead as they went on a 31-6 run to take the lead, the run only barely getting started at the end of the first half as they went 10-1 to trail 47-38 at the break.
That momentum continued in the second half with ECU going 30-9 in the opening 14 minutes of the half to push out to a 13 point, 68-55, lead before UTSA started to cut back in to the deficit, getting it to 73-65 with 1:40 remaining.
That saw UTSA forced to respond and they did with three straight 3-pointers to close to just needing one last 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
With seconds remaining Agusi had that chance as he ran down the court and got a shot for three away, only for his effort to bounce off the rim, ending UTSA’s season.