SAN ANTONIO — Devon Agusi scored a game-high 22 points to lead UTSA to a 2-0 start in Conference USA play with an 85-77 win over Charlotte on Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
Agusi went 8-of-13 from the floor, including a pair of 3-pointers, and hit four free throws to go along with four assists and a steal for the Roadrunners (6-9, 2-0 C-USA), who started 2-0 in league play for the first time since 2011-12. The senior was a perfect 5-for-5 in the first half for 12 points and added 10 after intermission.
Edrico McGregor tied a season high with 13 points and eight rebounds, while James Williams added 11 for the home squad. In addition, Keon Lewis and Hyjii Thomas came off the bench to contribute 10 points apiece.
UTSA shot 49.2 percent on the afternoon, including 50 percent (16-of-32) in the second half. The Birds scored 38 points in the paint and forced 17 turnovers that they turned into 23 points.
Meanwhile, Denzel Ingram came off the bench to hit five 3-pointers and pace Charlotte (10-5, 1-1 C-USA) with 17 points. Terrence Williams added 15, while Willie Clayton tallied 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
The 49ers held a 35-33 edge on the glass and shot 47.3 percent for the contest.
Charlotte got on the board early with an old-fashioned three-point play, but it would prove to be their only lead of the game.
James Williams quickly erased the deficit with a 3-pointer as the Roadrunners hit each of their first four shots en route to an 11-5 lead. McGregor scored inside and Agusi knocked in a pair of baskets during the early stretch.
Charlotte pulled to within 12-11 with 14:38 to go in the half, but UTSA responded with a 14-1 run to take control of the game. Six different players scored during the stretch, led by five points from Thomas.
Agusi started the rally with a layup before a free throw from Kaj-Björn Sherman and a trey by Jordan Sims. A Shawn Lester free throw briefly slowed the momentum, but Thomas got UTSA rolling again with all five of his points during the run with a three-point play and a layup. Lewis hit a free throw and McGregor capped the spurt with a basket.
UTSA clamped down on defense during the stretch and throughout the half as it forced 12 Charlotte miscues in the first 20 minutes.
The 49ers countered the run with a 7-0 run that cut the deficit to 26-19, but Agusi stopped the rally with a jumper and hit a triple with 3:03 on the clock for a 36-25 advantage. McGregor would get an offensive rebound and putback minutes later to give the Birds their largest lead of the period, 38-26, and a pair of Terrence Williams free throws sliced the margin to 38-28 at the break.
Much like he started the first half, James Williams opened the final session with a triple to ignite a 14-4 run over the first seven minutes. The Roadrunners defense continued to bother Charlotte, as the visitors hit just one of their first seven attempts from the field during that time.
Following a McGregor free throw, Terrence Williams turned the ball over near half court. McGregor picked up the loose ball and brought the Convocation Center crowd to its feet with a thunderous dunk that caused the 49ers to call timeout.
The stoppage did not slow UTSA as Agusi followed with his second 3-pointer of the game and Thomas capped the run with a layup and triple of his own.
However, Charlotte would not go away and trimmed a 54-33 deficit with 12:54 to play down to eight, 59-51, with 7:26 remaining.
Lewis hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to double-digits and help the Roadrunners outscore the 49ers 9-2 over the next three-and-a-half minutes. From there, the lead would grow to as much as 18 points and did not dip below 10 until the final minute.
The Roadrunners return to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 16, when they travel to Birmingham, Ala., for a matchup with UAB (11-3, 0-0 C-USA) at Bartow Arena.