UTSA falls to Northern Arizona in Saturday's season opener, 74-63
SAN ANTONIO — Hyjii Thomas finished with a career-high 17 points, but Northern Arizona put together a 17-2 run in the second half to pull away for a 74-63 victory in the season opener for both squads on Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
Thomas connected on four field goals and was 9-of-11 from the free-throw line to lead the Roadrunners (0-1), who fell to 21-12 in season openers. The senior played 39 minutes and added six rebounds, a pair of assists, two steals and a block to his stat line.
Keon Lewis came off the bench to connect on six of his seven attempts from the floor and registered all 15 of his points in the second half. Fellow newcomer Kaj-Björn Sherman added eight points off the bench for UTSA, which shot 60 percent (15-of-25) in the second half and 42.9 percent for the game.
The Roadrunners scored 34 points in the paint and totaled 21 points off of 17 Northern Arizona turnovers.
Meanwhile, Max Jacobsen went 6-of-8 from the floor and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line en route to 17 second-half points for the Lumberjacks (1-0). Aaseem Dixon also tallied 17, while Quinton Upshur and Kris Yanku chipped in 15 and 12, respectively.
Northern Arizona finished the contest shooting 42.4 percent from the floor and it connected from behind the arc a half dozen times.
A pair of Devon Agusi free throws cut the Northern Arizona lead to 49-45 with 8:14 to play before the visitors put the game out of reach with their decisive run.
Dixon started the stretch with a 3-pointer and he later hit two free throws for a 60-45 advantage before Lewis answered with a layup. However, Ako Kaluna scored a pair of baskets and Jacobsen added two free throws to cap the stretch, which was aided by three UTSA turnovers.
Trailing 66-47 with 3:32 on the clock, the Roadrunners scored eight consecutive points on buckets from Sherman, Lewis and Tyler Wood. UTSA later cut the deficit to nine (68-59) with a minute to play following another Lewis layup, but the Lumberjacks hit four free throws and got a basket in the final minute to seal the win.
Northern Arizona started fast and jumped out to an 8-0 lead with three consecutive baskets, including a pair of 3-pointers.
UTSA tightened up on defense and held the Lumberjacks to just one make in their next eight attempts. In the meantime, the home squad rattled off an 11-0 run of its own to take its first lead of the season.
Agusi started the run with a 3-pointer that was set up by Thomas, who then knocked in one of his six first-half free throws to slice the deficit to 8-4. Wood, who made the first start of his career, pulled the Birds closer with a 3-pointer before a pair of Thomas freebies gave UTSA a 9-8 advantage. Jordan Sims then found Edrico McGregor for a basket inside to cap the run, which lasted nearly five minutes.
The rest of the half featured five ties and a quintet of lead changes, but four consecutive points from Dixon lifted Northern Arizona to a 25-21 edge at intermission.
The Roadrunners will be back in action at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14, when they will face Houston (1-0) at Hofheinz Pavillion.