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Courtesy: Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics

Strong second half sends Texas State past UTSA, 66-52

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SAN ANTONIO — Sophomore Jeromie Hill scored 14 points, but Matt Staff and Brooks Ybarra combined for 45 and Texas State drained 10 second-half 3-pointers in a 66-52 victory against UTSA on Saturday before a season-high 2,895 fans at the Convocation Center.

Staff scored a game-high 28 points, as he shot 11-of-14 from the field, including 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line. Ybarra added 17 on 6-of-12 shooting and he made 5-of-10 from downtown to help the Bobcats (13-15, 5-9 SLC) drain a total of 13 from long distance.

Senior Stephen Franklin joined Hill in double figures with 10 points, but the Roadrunners (16-13, 8-6 SLC) were unable to overcome a 31-percent shooting effort, including just 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

Texas State stormed out of the gates to a 7-0 lead and still held an 18-13 advantage after jumpers by Staff and Reid Koenen on back-to-back possessions midway through the first half.

UTSA was able to knot the score on a Hill dunk and a three-point play by Franklin. It eventually took a 27-26 edge into the locker room after a pair of free throws by junior Kannon Burrage, who scored nine, in the final minute.

The second half was a different story, as the Bobcats shot 51.9 percent, including 10-of-17 from behind the line, compared to 25.8 and 4-of-16 from long distance for the Birds.

Texas State used a 14-3 run over the first 4:49 of the second stanza to build a 39-30 lead.

Staff converted a layup and a three from the right corner to cap a 10-2 stretch by himself and give the Bobcats a 44-32 advantage with 13:52 remaining.

Junior Melvin Johnson III drained a 3-pointer and Burrage knocked down a jumper from the free-throw line to make it 44-37, but Travis Jones and Ybarra sanwiched threes around a Franklin trey to push the lead back to double digits with 10:12 left to play.

Hill hit a pair of free throws one minute later to pull UTSA to within eight, but the Birds did not get any closer than nine the rest of the way, as the I-35 rivals split the season series the second consecutive season.

UTSA will be back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 29, when it travels to Central Arkansas (8-19, 3-11 SLC) for a 7 p.m. contest.

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