LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Jeromie Hill posted a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, both of which were game highs, and Kannon Burrage added 20 points to lead No. 9 seed UTSA to a 67-49 victory against eighth-seeded San Jose State in the first round of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament late Tuesday night at Orleans Arena.
The Roadrunners (9-21), who shot 62.1 percent in the second half and 50 percent overall, earned their first conference tournament win since claiming the 2011 Southland Tournament title two years ago to the day.
Hill was 8-for-15 from the floor and a
perfect 5-of-5 at the free-throw line and he cleared the defensive glass
nine times en route to his fourth double-double of the year. The junior
forward moved into eighth place (1,167) on UTSA’s career scoring chart
after topping 20 points for the third time this season, two of which came against
made 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-5 at the charity stripe in
registering his eighth 20-point contest of the season and 12th of his
Edrico McGregor came off the bench and hit all seven of his attempts from the floor for the Roadrunners en route to a season-high 14 points to go along with five rebounds while third-team All-WAC guard Michael Hale III pitched in 10 points, five boards, five assists and a steal.
LaVanne Pennington paced San Jose State (9-20), which dropped its 14th consecuitve game to finish the season, with 21 points, while Chris Cunningham added 12 and nine rebounds.
UTSA led from wire to wire in its sixth consecutive and 24th overall conference tournament appearance.
The Roadrunners made just 1-of-11 from behind the 3-point line but scored 44 points in the paint and held the Spartans to 32.1-percent shooting (18-of-56), including just 2-of-21 (9.5 percent) from downtown in evening the all-time series at two games apiece.
UTSA held San Jose State scoreless for a 7:49 stretch between baskets by Pennington at the 12:16 and 4:27 marks to help turn an early 12-8 lead into a 20-10 advantage following a thunderous slam dunk and free throw by Burrage.
Another dunk by McGregor and an acrobatic layup by Hale III in the final 2:11 of the half helped stake the Roadrunners to a 28-16 edge at intermission, matching the fewest points allowed in a half this season (16, Idaho in second half, Feb. 28).
UTSA pushed the lead out to 38-19, its the largest of the night, after Hill converted layups on back-to-back possessions early in the second half.
San jose State missed its first 14 3-point attempts before Jaleel Williams knocked down one from the corner to make it 44-30. After a missed layup by the Roadrunners, Pennington converted a three-point play to pull San Jose State to within 11 with 8:39 left to play.
Cunningham dropped in a pair of free throws to make it a 10-point contest (54-44) with five minutes remaining, but that was as close as the Spartans got the rest of the way.
The Roadrunners went 5-for-5 from the floor and 2-of-3 at the line down the stretch to coast to their 23rd all-time league tournament victory.
UTSA will take on top seed Louisiana Tech (26-5) at 8 p.m. (CT) in Thursday's third quarterfinal.