COLLEGE NOTEBOOK: Falcons looking forward after upset

UTPB men’s basketball coach Josh Newman admitted that the past few weeks have been challenging for him and his team having played six straight games against ranked opponents, the latest coming against No. 11 St. Edward’s.

Despite the challenging schedule, Newman said that he was proud of his team for finding a way to break through in a 75-65 victory over the Hilltoppers Saturday in Austin.

The win snapped a 32-game home winning streak for St. Edward’s and a six-game losing streak for UTPB.

“I thought our kids played tremendously well the second game,” Newman said Monday. “We played really well the first half of the first game and then we just let that game kind of get away from us.

“I thought our kids executed the game plan and we were fortunate enough to come away with a victory on the road.”

Newman expanded on how his team was able to keep St. Edward’s in check Saturday.

“It was two things,” he said. “One, our defense was really good and it generated some easier opportunities. Then two, we just valued the ball more.

“When you’re shooting 48 percent you’d rather just throw it at the rim than at the other team.”

The Falcons were able to get a road victory but still face some coming challenges.

Newman said Monday that sophomore guard Fermandez Jones is out for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL. Jones averaged 7.4 points per game this season and had started the last two games he played against West Texas A&M.

He is the third Falcons player to be out for the season, joining Israel Barnes and Dadou Traore.

UTPB looks to overcome those injuries and build a winning streak starting this weekend against No. 15 Dallas Baptist.

“Dallas Baptist does a great job of turning turnovers into points and we’ve got to make sure that we do not give them anything easy,” Newman said “We’ve got to keep track of our assignments and do what we know we can do on the defensive end.”

>> PIVOTAL STRETCH: After earning a split against St. Edward’s over the weekend, UTPB women’s basketball coach Rae Boothe said that overall she saw that her team’s defensive effort was better and that the team was rebounding better as well.

There was one area that she said was “deficient” in Friday’s 74-57 loss to the Hilltoppers and is making that a point of emphasis this weekend.

“We did not take care of the ball,” Boothe said. “We threw the ball away so many times and we shot it at a terrible rate with high percentage shots. We just could not find our composure for probably 35 minutes of that game.”

The Falcons return home to the Falcon Dome Friday and Saturday for a series against Texas Woman’s University.

The Pioneers have only played three games compared to the 10 that UTPB has played. Only Texas A&M International has played more games out of any Lone Star Conference team with 11.

The weekend series is the start of a crucial stretch of four games in six days for UTPB. Following the matchup against the Pioneers, the Falcons travel on the road to play at Cameron Monday and UT Tyler on Wednesday. Both are games that had been previously postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.

It is also the final time in the regular season that UTPB is scheduled to play back-to-back days.

“This is the biggest week for us,” Boothe said. “We do hope to win four for four and it’s going to be a challenge for us.

“We’ve won one game at a time and we haven’t started a streak so hopefully this weekend we can put one together.”

>> BASEBALL GETTING STARTED: After nearly a year away from playing in a live game, the UTPB basketball team is getting started with the 2021 season with a doubleheader against Sul Ross State starting at noon Saturday at Roden Field.

Head coach Brian Reinke said that his team is anxious to get back playing again.

“As exciting as it is for me, I know the players are much more excited,” Reinke said. “We’ve been able to have a full fall practice and a couple of scrimmage so that’s taken away some of the jitters.”

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