UTSA downs Marshall in inaugural Conference USA game, 90-81
SAN ANTONIO — Keon Lewis came off the bench to score 23 points and lead UTSA to a 90-81 win over Marshall in its inaugural Conference USA contest on Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
Lewis shot 7-of-14 from the floor, including a perfect 3-of-3 from beyond the arc, and six free throws to go along with five rebounds, an assist and steal for the Roadrunners (5-9, 1-0 C-USA), who tied their season high for points. Hyjii Thomas tallied 14 points, while Philip Jones (11) and Devon Agusi (10) also reached double-figures.
In addition, Kaj-Björn Sherman, Tyler Wood and Jones tied for the team-lead with seven boards.
UTSA shot 61.5 percent in the second half, 51.9 percent for the contest and connected on 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) 3-pointers. Led by Lewis’ 23 points, the squad totaled 47 points off the bench and also finished with 36 points in the paint.
Meanwhile, Kareem Canty paced the Thundering Herd (6-10, 0-1 C-USA) with a game-high 26 points. The redshirt freshman went 9-of-22 from the field and hit four triples, while Shawn Smith added 16 points and seven boards.
Marshall shot 44.6 percent in the contest and held a slight 37-36 edge on the glass.
Sherman found Lewis for a 3-pointer with 12:39 to play that gave UTSA a 61-57 lead before Smith scored four consecutive points to draw the Thundering Herd even and tie the score for the 13th and final time.
The Roadrunners clamped down on defense and turned up the offense to fuel a 15-4 run over the next six-and-a-half minutes to take control of the game.
Jones started the stretch with a layup inside and five straight points from Lewis made it 68-63. Edrico McGregor found Thomas close to the basket for another layup before Jordan Sims hit a triple and Lewis drove in for a bucket. Thomas capped the run with a freebie that pushed the UTSA advantage to 76-65 and the lead would not dip below eight points the rest of the way.
Moments later, Jones grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled while converting a spinning layup. The redshirt freshman knocked in the free throw for the Birds’ largest lead, 79-67, with four minutes left.
Marshall made one final push with a full-court press and outside shooting from Canty, but the Roadrunners broke the press for easy baskets to help seal the 90-81 win.
The Roadrunners wasted little time getting their offense started after winning the opening tip. McGregor gave the home squad a quick 2-0 lead before Marshall responded with a 3-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play to take a 6-2 edge.
UTSA would go on a 7-0 run in which it forced the Thundering Herd to go 0-for-4 from the floor to set the stage for a back-and-forth opening half that saw eight ties and 10 lead changes.
Trailing 14-11, Jordan Sims connected on back-to-back triples to regain the advantage, but the Roadrunners could not pull away.
Marshall scored five straight points to break a 23-all tie with 7:07 to play in the stanza for its largest lead, only to see UTSA pull ahead on Lewis’ first 3-pointer of the night minutes later.
The score would be knotted four more times before the end of the half and a free throw from Wood gave the Roadrunners a 41-40 edge at intermission.
UTSA will continue Conference USA action at 3 p.m. on Saturday when it hosts Charlotte (10-4, 1-0 C-USA) at the Convocation Center.