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Courtesy: Tom Reel/San Antonio Express-News

UTSA drops 73-71 heartbreaker to Louisiana Tech on Saturday night

Courtesy: UTSA Athletics
Release: 01/15/2013
Courtesy UTSA Athletics
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SAN ANTONIO — Kannon Burrage poured in a career-high 29 points, but Kenyon McNeail rattled home nine 3-pointers, including the game winner, en route to 34 points and Louisiana Tech held off UTSA, 73-71, on Saturday night at the Convocation Center.

McNeail made 9-of-15 from behind the 3-point line and 11-of-19 from the floor overall in registering an opponent season high in points and 3-pointers. His final three was from deep beyond the arc with 16.7 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 73-71 lead.

UTSA’s final shot — a long trey from the left wing by Hyjii Thomas — fell off the front of the rim as time expired and Louisiana Tech (14-3) remained in a tie with Utah State atop the Western Athletic Conference standngs at 5-0.

Burrage connected on 9-of-20 shots from the floor, including a pair of threes, and was a perfect 9-for-9 at the free-throw line in eclipsing his previous career best of 25 set against USC Upstate on Dec. 8. It marked the 10th career 20-point outing, his fifth this season, for the senior guard, who matched Michael Hale III’s individual season-high of 29 that he posted in the Nov. 11 triumph at Old Dominion. He also grabbed five rebounds and a pair of steals in logging 38 minutes.

Jordan Sims added 16 points on the strength of a trio of 3-pointers, while Thomas, who drew his first career start, pitched in 14 for the Roadrunners (4-12, 0-6 WAC).

In a game that featured 19 lead changes and 11 ties, it naturally came down to the final minutes.

After trailing by as many as eight in the second half, UTSA rallied to tie things up behind hot shooting from downtown and the charity stripe. Thomas made 3-of-4 at the line on two separate trips and Burrage extended his perfect night on free throws with a pair at the 3:33 mark to pull the home team within one at 64-63.

Burrage then answered a Chris Anderson jumper with one of his own, and after Anderson converted a pair at the line, Hale III dropped in a three from top of circle to knot the score at 68 with 2:09 left.

Hale III then came up with a steal and found Sims alone on the right wing for a long-distance connection to give UTSA a 71-68 advantage with 1:22 remaining on the clock.

McNeail was fouled at the other end on a drive and made both free throws to make it a one-point contest with a minute to go.

UTSA had a shot blocked out of bounds on the sideline and then turned the ball over on a traveling violation with 32.8 seconds to play.

With the shot clock turned off, McNeail got free deep behind the arc and knocked down the game winner.

Anderson joined McNeail in double figures with 10 points, while Cordarius Johnson posted seven behind the Bulldogs' only other two 3-pointers of the night. LA Tech shot 47.3 percent (26-of-55) overall, made 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) from downtown and knocked down 10-of-14 at the line. They also got 34 points off their bench behind McNeail, who did not start but played a team-high 32 minutes.

UTSA shot 40.7 percent (22-of-54), including 7-of-20 (35 percent) from beyond the arc, and turned in their second-best performance of the year from the charity stripe at 87 percent (20-of-23).

The Roadrunners will conclude their current three-game home stand at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 19, against I-35 rival Texas State (4-14, 0-6 WAC).

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