HOUSTON — Hyjii Thomas scored a career-high 22 points, but Houston used a 20-4 first-half run to build a big lead and then stopped a second-half UTSA rally with a 14-0 spurt to claim an 80-62 victory at Hofheinz Pavilion on Thursday night.
Thomas, a senior from Houston, tallied 17 second-half points for the Roadrunners (0-2) to go along with six rebounds, two steals and a block. The senior connected on seven field goals, including a pair of 3-pointers, in addition to six free throws. Fellow senior Jordan Sims had a season-high 13 points, while Edrico McGregor recorded a team-best nine rebounds.
The Roadrunners shot 43.8 percent from the floor in the second half and 32.8 percent for the contest. UTSA held a 40-34 edge on the glass and collected 21 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second-chance points.
Jherrod Stiggers paced the Cougars (3-0), who shot 55.8 percent from the floor, with 15 points, while TaShawn Thomas added 14 and six rebounds. Stiggers went 5-of-9 from the floor and his four 3-pointers accounted for half of the team’s eight triples on the night.
Houston pounded the ball inside early and jumped out to a 13-4 lead in the first five minutes. The Roadrunners cut into the deficit with six consecutive points on baskets from Keon Lewis and Tyler Wood. Lewis and Kaj-Björn Sherman then added two free throws to pull the visitors to within 15-12 before Houston went on its big run.
After scoring 14 points in the paint to start the night, the Cougars began to connect from outside.
A 3-pointer by Tione Womack and Brandon Morris layup ignited the spurt, which lasted nearly nine-and-a-half minutes.
McGregor scored inside and Devon Agusi connected on a long jumper as the Roadrunners trailed 24-16 with 7:36 on the clock, but Stiggers hit back-to-back 3-pointers, as Houston scored 11 consecutive points for its largest lead of the half, 35-16.
UTSA held the Cougars without a field goal over the final 4:37 of the opening period, but it only managed a free throw and Thomas jumper and trailed 36-19 at halftime.
The Roadrunners offense got rolling early in the second half, as the team netted 20 points in the first seven minutes of the period.
A pair of steals led to four quick points to start the stanza and, after the teams traded baskets, UTSA trailed 41-23 with 18:03 to play.
However, the Birds did not go away and rattled off a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to seven (43-36).
Sims started the run with a 3-pointer and after a layup from TaShawn Thomas, Thomas scored 10 consecutive points to cap the spurt. The senior hit a pair of jumpers and three free throws before connecting on a triple.
Houston answered the run with seven straight points to reclaim a double-digit advantage.
Thomas started one final spurt for UTSA with a 3-pointer that was followed by a bucket and trey from Sims to slice the Cougars lead to 56-49 with 9:14 to play, but the Roadrunners were unable to get any closer the rest of the way.
UTSA will be back in action at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 18, when it opens a three-game home stand against McMurry (1-0).