The University of Texas-Pan American Broncs men’s basketball team closed out its non-conference schedule Monday night with a 68-43 loss to the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners. The loss was the first at home for the Broncs against five wins as they fell to 7-10 overall.
In what was a back-and-forth game throughout most of the first half, the Roadrunners took their six point (29-23) halftime lead and opened it up to 20 points (48-28) with a 19-5 run in the first six minutes of the second half. While UTSA continued building on their lead throughout the remainder of the game, UTPA did manage to keep the point differential during the final 13:46 to only five points as the Roadrunners went on to hand the Broncs their second 20-plus point loss of the season.
“Turnovers were a huge key,” Hipsher said. “They really exploited us in the second half on our lack of ball toughness. I think on the game there was a 26-5 differential in points off of turnovers in their favor – that is a huge disparity. It makes it really hard to win games when you don’t take care of the ball and you don’t give yourself opportunities to score.”
“Not only did we turn the ball over, but they turned around and went down to score. I think that’s what keyed their run in the second half,” added Hipsher.
Although Monday night’s game was non-conference and will not affect UTPA’s WAC (Western Athletic Conference) standings, that was no consolation for Hipsher.
“Whether a game is conference or non-conference it really doesn’t make that much of a difference,” said Hipsher. “We try to instill in our guys that no matter who the opponent is we approach the game the same way with the same preparation and the same focus. This game was no different. UTSA came in here and played a really good game and they did a nice job.”
Is there anything positive the Broncs could take from their second half performance? To this Hipsher said, “I think we were ready for them but when you’re not tough with the ball, when you turn it over and they start getting what we call “pick six turnovers” where they have a free run at layups and easy baskets that’s something that’s tough to deal with. On the other end we had decent looks at the basket all night, but we just couldn’t knock them down.”
A 2012 graduate of Sharyland High School Joaquin “Kino” Pistokache is one of only two players on the current UTPA roster that played high school basketball in the Valley. As the Rattlers’ all-time leading scorer, a three-time First Team All-District and a two-time RGV Basketball Coaches Association First Team All-Valley selection, Pistokache decided to try out for the Broncs after taking last year off.
“After graduating from Sharyland I played my freshman year at Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, New York,” shared Pistokache. “But I didn’t like the situation I was in there so I returned home and I decided to stay away from basketball and work towards getting my business degree at UTPA. That is what I did for about a year and a half.”
“Once school started this past fall I was thinking about trying out for the team here but I wasn’t sure about it,” added Pistokache. “Then the day before tryouts I decided that I might as well give it a shot and I made the team. I came in knowing that as a first year walk-on my playing time would be very limited, but I made it clear to the coaches that I would do whatever it is they wanted me to do to help the team win.”
Against the Roadrunners Monday night Pistokache only played the final 3:51 of the game. He scored one field goal on his only attempt and had one turnover.
As of press time the Broncs were 1-0 in conference play with their 64-59 win over Chicago State University Saturday. UTPA played their second conference game of the season last night against Seattle University and are scheduled to play Bakersfield at Bakersfield tomorrow night. The Broncs will then return home for games against Utah Valley University, Thursday Jan. 22, and against Grand Canyon University, Saturday Jan. 24.