HOUSTON (AP) -- Jherrod Stiggers had 15 points on 4 of 7 shooting from behind the arc as the Houston Cougars pulled away midway through the first half for an 80-62 win over the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners Thursday night.
TaShawn Thomas finished with 14 points and six rebounds with four blocks. Thomas was 6 of 7 from the field for Houston (3-0), which shot 55.8 percent from the field in the game.
“That first half was like the best defensive stand we had all year,” TaShawn Thomas said. “Everybody on the court was locked in, ready to play. In the second half, we came out dull and they just came out and kept attacking us. I think we only beat them by one point in the second half, so in the second half we got too complacent and were just going back and forth with them.”
Despite the hot shooting from the field, Houston struggled from the free throw line shooting 53.8 percent (14 of 26).
“We’ll work on them,” Houston coach James Dickey said of the free throw shooting. “We could have had a bigger lead at halftime. Part of inefficiency in the first half was we had a lot of possessions in the first half where guys just missed. We just missed too many in the first half and didn’t shoot them well for the game.”
Hyjii Thomas had 22 points and six rebounds to lead UTSA (0-2).
UTSA head coach Brooks Thompson said Hyjii Thomas, who is one of the more experienced players on the Roadrunners’ team that includes six players that either transferred this year or played in high school last year, played well.
“He is a senior and one of our only experienced guys,” Thompson said of Hyjii Thomas. “He’s a junior college transfer, but he is a senior, so he has a year of Division I basketball under his belt. He’s taken the team on his back a little bit, and hopefully, we can get him guarding with a lot more urgency, but he’s doing a great job.”
Jordan Sims added 13 points and Keon Lewis chipped in 10 points for the Roadrunners, who shot 32.8 percent from the field and hit just 5 of 19 from behind the arc.
The Roadrunners shot just 20.7 percent from the field in the first half in falling behind 36-19.
“I think Houston did a good job,” Thompson said. “They are long and athletic, and they can guard. . I do think we came in and were sluggish, and we missed some shots we typically make, but I think Houston affected what we were trying to do. We took some quick shots and turned the ball over uncharacteristically, and that really hurt us.”
Houston, which shot 52 percent in the first half, used a 20-4 run over a 10-minute stretch of the first half to grow the lead to 19, 35-16, on a free throw by Danrad Knowles with 2:39 left in the opening half. Stiggers had nine points in the run on three straight 3-pointers.
“I didn’t have a mindset on shooting, but I take what they give me,” Stiggers said of his 3-point shooting.
UTSA closed the lead to seven, 43-36, five minutes into the second half on a Hyjii Thomas 3-pointer to cap a 10-0 run in which Hyjii Thomas scored all of the Roadrunners’ points.
The Cougars countered with a 7-0 run of their own to take the lead back to 14 on a Tione Womack jumper with 13:22 remaining in the game.
The Roadrunners had one more run in them and got the lead down to 56-49 with 9:14 left in the game on a Sims 3-pointer, but Houston responded again with a 15-1 spurt over the next 4:30 to push the lead to 21 on a Stiggers jumper. LeRon Barnes had seven points in the run for Houston.
“He and J.J. (Richardson) really helped us in the second half,” Dickey said of Barnes’ play. “LeRon hit a big three and had a nice pass down low. LeRon is a guy that can really help us. He did a very good job and had four rebounds as well.”