Courtesy: UTSA Athletics Communications
by Jordan Korphage
KATY — It took 117 games, 462 field goals, 643 misses, 524 rebounds and 545 assists.
It took 1,647 points, and all told, it took five school records, but on Saturday, senior Devin Gibson finally got the one thing that has mattered to him most since the first day he set foot on UTSA’s campus
… a Southland Conference Championship.
When asked what the records mean compared to the long-awaited Southland Tournament title that Gibson and the Roadrunners won with their 75-72 triumph against McNeese State on Saturday, his answer was quite simple.
"Nothing," a still-grinning Gibson said. "At the end of the day, you can have all the records in the world, but that championship ring shows you did more than just master one skill to get a record."
Playing mere miles from his hometown of Houston, Gibson averaged 23 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists to will UTSA to its third Southland Tournament Championship and fourth berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Those numbers were good enough to earn him Most Valuable Player honors, as the Roadrunners won the tournament as the No. 7 seed.
Already battling a healing cut over his left eye sustained 10 days ago, he then had to overcome a hard tumble in the first half. The 6-foot guard may not have played his best game of the week, but more significant than his 15 points was the confidence instilled in his teammates.
After his fall halted play in the game’s opening minutes, Gibson was replaced by sophomore Kalif Bakare, who scored two points, grabbed a pair of rebounds, recorded three assists and committed just one turnover in 10 minutes of relief action.
The team’s unquestioned floor leader, Gibson’s influence on the squad still could be seen without him in the game.
"I just told everyone they got a taste of the future with Kalif in there today," Gibson said.
Bakare, who routinely is matched up against Gibson in practice, ran the team well and provided the senior leader time to heal and get back into the game.
"My head was a little rattled but Coach (Robert) Guster kept telling me I'd never forgive myself if I didn't keep playing and tough it out," Gibson said.
All Guster probably had to do was remind him that this moment was four years in the making.
After scoring just two points in the first half, Gibson recorded 13 after intermission when his team needed it most.
Each time McNeese State threatened to take the lead, he came up with a big shot or key assist to build on UTSA’s advantage.
As the clock wound down with UTSA in the lead, Gibson and the Roadrunners could feel how close they were to an invitation to "The Big Dance."
"It's a feeling you can't describe," Gibson said. "We knew we were almost there and, just like that, they started hitting a bunch of threes. It was like a crazy roller coaster."
Fortunately for UTSA, the thrill ride finally came to end when Patrick Richard’s last-second 3-pointer fell into the hands of freshman Jeromie Hill, who joined Gibson on the All-Tournament Team, to ignite a wild celebration on the floor of the Merrell Center.
After numerous interviews and photo requests from fans, net cutting and a postgame interview on ESPN with 1983 National Champion Dereck Whittenburg, who called the victory along with Carter Blackburn, Gibson finally got a moment to himself before getting the cut over his eye tended to.
As Gibson sat outside the locker room, he took a moment to remove his tournament championship T-shirt and just stared at it, saying it's an article of clothing he's coveted for "forever."
It also means his next appearance in a navy blue and orange uniform will be something special.
Game No. 117 will be memorable and any others beyond that will create memories he’s been waiting to form for many years.