Photo Credit: Marcus Connolly/ The Paisano
The visiting Rice Owls (6-14, 1- 6 C-USA) had no answer on offense or defense Thursday night, as the UTSA Roadrunners (7-12, 3-3 C-USA) defeated them 89-76 at the Convocation Center on Thursday, Jan. 30.
Snapping their three game losing streak, the Roadrunners came out with a swarming defense that held the Owl’s to a mere 39 points in the first half. It was a well-deserved welcome home party at the Convocation Center, with the Roadrunners returning after three weeks on the road, and fans were not disappointed.
Rice’s largest lead of the night was by one point, and occurred two minutes into the game. After that, the Roadrunners would go on to lead the rest of the game, and open up their largest lead after consecutive three pointers by UTSA Forward Jordan Sims’s, Guard Keon Lewis, and Center Lucas O’Brien.
Sims finished with 21 total points, going 5-for-7 from behind the arc, while Lewis and O’Brien would add 11 and 6 points respectively.
The Roadrunner offense fired on all cylinders, being both proficient with shot selections, while making minimal mistakes. UTSA coughed up the ball only 6 times, and never allowed the Owl’s to come within 9 points of them.
Senior Guard Hyjii Thomas would also provide the Roadrunner offense with a spark, making back-to-back and one’s, which forced the struggling Owl’s to play catch up. Thomas would finish the game with 11 points and three steals.
UTSA converted 16 points off of Rice’s turnovers in the first half, and just looked out of sync. There was no answer for the Owl’s on either side of the ball, and gap in skill level began to seem more apparent than ever.
The Runners would go on to end the first half shooting 62.5 percent from downtown, and 60.0 percent from the floor.
The start of the second half portrayed a different story.
The Roadrunners started to bend, and came undone mechanically, allowing 9 turnovers to Rice’s 6. The Roadrunners’ offense also cooled down, as Owl’s Guard Keith Washington made all of his attempted 3-pointers in the second half. Coming off the bench he would lead the Owl’s with 20 points.
However Freshman Forward Phillip Jones continued to shine with his first year with UTSA, and provided a sounding block that really kept the Roadrunner defense alive in the second half of play.
Jones has been starting his last 11 games after coming playing off the bench at the start of the season, but Thursday night he really showcased his athleticism with two big dunks that erupted the crowd.
“We came out with a lot of energy, and we need to compete and continue to be the aggressor,” Jones stated on keeping the momentum to Saturday’s game against conference opponent, Lousiana Tech. Jones would end the game with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and one block.
As the last minutes of exhibition began to wind down, the Owl’s desperately began throwing up shots, but none fell in their favor. UTSA would finish the game with a 49.1 percent shooting from the field, and 52.9 percent from 3-point land.
The Roadrunners will take on Louisiana Tech (17-5, 5-2 C-USA) on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Convocation Center, for what is sure to be a high-energy contest.