Strong second half helps UTSA surge past Idaho, 74-56
SAN ANTONIO — Michael Hale III scored 16 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to help UTSA surge past Idaho, 74-56, on Thursday night in Western Athletic Conference (WAC) action at the Convocation Center.
The Roadrunners (8-19, 3-12 WAC) outscored the Vandals (10-17, 5-11 WAC), 36-16, after halftime behind 59.3-percent shooting to extend their winning streak to three games. UTSA shot 54.5 percent (30-of-55) from the floor, the second-highest percentage this season (56.6 at Oregon), and committed just six turnovers against the same squad it tied a school record with only five in the first meeting back on Jan. 26.
Hale III topped 20 points for the seventh time this season and fifth in WAC play and he added five rebounds, three assists and three steals in logging all 40 minutes. Kannon Burrage added 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 2-for-3 from behind the 3-point line, and Jeromie Hill pitched in 12 points on 4-for-5 aim.
Kyle Barone led Idaho with 13 points and 15 rebounds, but UTSA held the 6-foot-10 center to just two points and five boards in the second half. Mike McChristian led the Vandals with 19 points behind 5-of-8 from beyond the arc and Connor Hill, the league’s top 3-point shooter, added 10 but made only 2-of-8 from long distance.
“This was a solid win against a good team that beat us the first time around,” head coach Brooks Thompson said. “To hold a team like that to just 16 points in the second half and to hold Barone to just two points after halftime says a lot about how well we played defensively and how hard the guys battled against a taller team. I didn’t think we were as physical as Idaho was in the first half and I think we were more physical in the second half, and that was probably the difference in the game.”
UTSA, which held Idaho to just 24 percent from the field after intermission, quickly turned a 40-38 halftime deficit into a 53-42 lead thanks to an 11-0 run that was capped by a Hill layup at the 12:14 mark.
Hale III knocked down a trey from the right wing and Hill was good from underneath the basket a minute later to extend the run to 16-1 and hand the home team a 58-43 advantage.
The UTSA advantage grew to as many as 16 when Burrage drilled a jumper from inside the lane that made it 68-52 with five minutes to play.
The Vandals pulled to within 13 at 69-56 on a short jumper by Mansa Habeeb with 2:21 on the clock, but they could get no closer, as UTSA closed out the contest with an alley-oop dunk by Edrico McGregor off an inbounds pass from Hyjii Thomas and a Hale III 3-pointer from the top of the circle in the final minute.
“Our guys have never ever quit this season,” Thompson said. “They have always bounced back and come to work the next day, win or lose. They have such high character, so I always thought some good things would happen. These last three weeks we’ve played very well. We have some confidence now and this is a good time of the year to have that.”
Idaho was hot from downtown in the first half, draining seven of its first 10 attempts from beyond the arc and it shot 53.3 percent from the floor overall.
However, UTSA shot 50 percent in the half and made 8-of-10 at the free-throw line in a frame that saw six ties and 12 lead changes.
The Roadrunners will host Seattle (7-19, 2-14 WAC) in their home finale at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be televised on KCWX-2.