Thomas, Lewis lead UTSA past Texas-Pan American on Saturday night, 72-65
EDINBURG — Hyjii Thomas and Keon Lewis combined for 44 points to lead UTSA to a 72-65 victory at Texas-Pan American on Saturday night.
Thomas went 7-of-13 from the floor, 2-of-3 from behind the arc and hit eight free throws en route to a career-high 24 points for the Roadrunners (3-6), who notched their first road win of the season. The senior from Houston recorded his third 20-point outing of the campaign and added five rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks in the contest.
Meanwhile, Lewis finished with 20 points behind a perfect 12-for-12 performance from the free-throw line and he also tied a season high with five assists. In addition, Phillip Jones neared a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds.
UTSA, which never trailed, shot 50 percent (18-of-36) in the game and held a 37-19 rebounding advantage. The Roadrunners recorded 14 assists on their 18 baskets and scored 22 points in the paint.
The Birds hit 31-of-39 free throws, including a 20-of-22 mark in the second half to help salt the game away.
Javorn Farrell paced the Broncs (4-7), who dropped their third straight, with 16 points and Texas-Pan American shot just 39.7 percent from the floor, including just a 35.5 percent clip in the second half.
Behind a strong start from Thomas, the Roadrunners came out of the gate on fire and connected on six of their first eight shots, including their first four from behind the arc, on their way to a 60-percent shooting performance in the first half.
Kaj-Björn Sherman gave UTSA an early advantage with a bucket inside off a pass from Jordan Sims and following a Broncs basket, Thomas hit nothing but net on his first 3-pointer of the night.
After Texas-Pan American tied the score with a trey of its own, UTSA went on a 16-4 run for a 21-9 lead.
Thomas started the spurt with a layup and free throw before Lewis nailed a triple to push the advantage to 11-5. Shaquille Hines briefly slowed the UTSA momentum with a layup, but the Roadrunners got a pair of free throws and another trey by Thomas. Freebies from Thomas and Devon Agusi along with a 3-pointer from Lewis capped the stretch.
In addition to its hot start on the offensive end, UTSA limited the Broncs to just 30.7 percent (4-of-13) shooting through the first 10 minutes.
However, Texas-Pan American started to chip away at the Roadrunners lead with a 7-0 run that was cut off by a steal and fast-break layup from Thomas. Agusi hit a 15-foot jumper and Lewis drained two more free throws to push the lead back to double digits, 27-16.
Once again, the Broncs would not go away and outscored the Roadrunners 13-6 over the final five-and-a-half minutes to trim the UTSA lead to 33-29 at intermission.
The Roadrunners started the second half much like they did the first with six of the first seven points of the stanza to push the advantage to 39-30.
Texas-Pan American would not go away and answered with five points, but each time the Broncs came close, the Roadrunners came away with a basket or trip to the charity stripe.
A 3-pointer from Farrell with 14:19 to play cut the UTSA lead to 43-40, only to see Thomas slice to the basket and take a feed from Jones for a bucket.
The Roadrunners slowly rebuilt their lead and a 3-pointer from Sims pushed the lead back up to nine, 51-42, while a pair of free throws by Lewis with 6:40 to go gave UTSA its largest advantage of the half, 57-46.
The Broncs started to heat up from behind the arc and hit three 3-pointers to aid an 11-2 run that brought the home squad within a basket with just 3:19 to go.
But Lewis found Jones for a dunk and Texas-Pan American would get no closer than four the rest of the way as UTSA hit 11-of-12 free throws in the final 2:20 to seal the victory.
The Roadrunners open a stretch of three consecutive home games to close the calendar year when they host CSU Bakersfield (5-4) in a 7 p.m. tilt on Wednesday, Dec. 18.