LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Jeromie Hill scored 17 points, but Karol Gruszecki drained five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 19 and UT Arlington ended UTSA’s Western Athletic Conference Tournament run with a 69-53 semifinal victory late Friday night at Orleans Arena.
Jamel Outler added 13 points behind three treys and Kevin Butler posted 10 and seven boards to help the fourth-seeded Mavericks (19-12) advance to Saturday’s championship game against No. 3 New Mexico State (20-13).
Jordan Sims hit four 3-pointers en route to 12 points, while Kannon Burrage added nine and shared the team lead with Hill with six rebounds.
Playing its third game in four nights, the Roadrunners (10-22) could not overcome a cold-shooting first half in their third conference tournament semifinal appearance in the last five years.
UTSA shot 35.3 percent for the game, including 42.3 percent in the final 20 minutes, while UT Arlington connected at a 50.9 percent clip for the game.
Armed with a 33-20 lead at the break, Gruszecki knocked down a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half push the UTA lead to 19.
UTSA answered with treys from Burrage and Sims only to see the Mavs stretch their advantage to 20 (46-26) when Cameron Catlett capped a 12-6 run with a three-point play at the 15:27 mark.
Sims connected again from long distance to make it 50-37 with 12 minutes to play, but Gruszecki’s long-range touch in the form of two more treys helped the Mavericks run their lead to 21 (61-40) with 7:15 to play.
From there, UTSA got as close as 63-48 with 4:08 to play, but UT Arlington held the Birds to just five points the rest of the way.
UTSA made just three of its first 14 shot attempts in falling behind by an 18-7 count through the first 10 minutes. The Mavericks extended the lead to 26-11 after back-to-back treys from Outler.
The Roadrunners cut into the deficit after a Sims three and Larry Wilkins layup, but UTA pushed the lead back to 15 (33-18) with a 7-2 run and took a 13-point advantage into the locker room.
UTSA shot just 28 percent (7-of-25) in the first half, while UT Arlington made 5-of-11 from downtown and 44.4 percent overall.