By Antonio Castillo
Pretty or ugly, a win is a win, and UTSA Head Coach Steven Henson will take it. On a night where the offense was not at it's best, the 'Runners would use a stout defensive effort and good enough free throw shooting down the stretch to put away the Wolverines on Wednesday night, 66-60.
The 'Runners final eight points all came from the charity stripe, as Jeff Beverly, Nick Billingsley, Giovanni De Nicolao, and Gino Littles all stepped up and knocked down clutch free throws to down Utah Valley.
Coach Henson commented on the rough offensive night and his team's resolve in pulling out the victory.
"Tonight was certainly one of our best efforts in terms of fight, toughness, diving on the floor. I was really-really proud of our guys" said Head Coach Steve Henson. "I thought that this team (Utah Valley State) was terrific, watching their last few ball games, they're driving it at people, their attacking, they're great in transition and hard to guard off the dribble. Our guys got down, fought competed, and it wasn't real pretty at times, but our guys, have a pretty rewarding feeling for our guys to go in there and play that way."
Freshman point guard Giovanni De Nicolao led five Roadrunners in double figures with 14 points, a new career high. He played a majority of the game, 33 of the 40 minute contest. He talked about how UTSA was simply able to get enough done for the "W."
"They were a good, tough team. They showed us last time. We just played hard, we just want to compete every possession, dive after every ball. Fortunately shots go in tonight, we played great defense in the first half. At the beginning of the second half, it wasn't too good, they started scoring a lot, we missed a couple of open shots, but then we started competing again and it was amazing. I feel amazing tonight."
The 'Runners closed the first half on a bit of a streak. Point guard Gino Littles hit his second trey of the stanza as he had an isolation play at the top of the key and drained it. Giving UTSA it's largest lead of the half, 34-18 with 13 seconds to play. Utah Valley State would answer with their own three, making it a 34-21 game at the half.
Although shots started falling at the end of the first half, it was the defense that took center stage. UTSA held Utah Valley State to only 1 FG and 3 points over the last four plus minutes, fueling the 'Runners 13 point advantage.
Teammate and fellow freshman, Byron Frohnen also was huge for the 'Runners, registering his second double-double of the season. He finished with 10 points and 12 boards. The 6'5" freshman just has a knack for finding the ball and making the smart play, either scoring it, or kicking it out.
Jeff Beverly had 11 points, Gino Littles also had 11, and Nick Billingsley chipped in 10 to account for the five players in double digits.
UTSA is now 4-8 on the season and 4-0 at home in the Convocation Center. The team is one win away from tying last years entire win total of five. With the Christmas break now upon us, they return to the floor on next Thursday, December 29th at the Convo, hosting division two opponent East Central University (OK). Tip is set for 7 p.m.null