San Antonio, Texas- After building a 21 point lead at the 7:55 mark in the second half, UTSA was able to make a couple of clutch free throws and buckets, in order to hold off the pesky Rice Owls, 85-80, on Sunday afternoon.
Rice would come all the way back on the strength of a 10-0 run, to make it an 80-78 contest with just 1:28 to go in the game. The Owls had a wide open look at a three pointer from the top of the key, but Egor Koulechov left it just a touch long. The 'Runners would call timeout on the rebound and draw up a play that got Christian Wilson to the hole, and he finished with a contested layup to make it 82-78.
The Owls would get a great look to respond, but missed a driving layup. Wilson would corral the rebound, get fouled and drain two clutch free throws, giving him 23 points on the night, and more importantly, an 84-78 lead. The 'Runners would hang on for the 85-80 win.
Head Coach Brooks Thompson was in the similar situation once again, after not being able to sustain an 18 point lead against UNT on Friday, but this time he was able to push some buttons and help his team notch the win.
"We told them, stay the course, stay the course. When they made that run I felt like we lost a little bit of our intensity. That's thinking too much. We can't let the guys think, you just gotta play, play hard, and get stops."
Leading the 'Runners was sophomore Christian Wilson who came in off the bench for this game, as his buckets and free throw shooting don the stretch helped cinch the "W."
"We had to crack down and go back to the basics of the game. The principles and what we worked on in practice and a lot of the preparation we got before the game," said Wilson. "Today was probably one of my most focused games. I just wanted to redeem myself and I wanted to get a victory to the show the team that we can turn this around. We're a winning team and it's time to take progressive steps."
Senior Ryan Bowie also turned in a nice performance, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. He finished with 20 points and went 3 of 6 from downtown, with 5 rebounds, to help pace the 'Runners to their first conference win on the season.
Joining Bowie and Wilson in double digits, was point guard Gino Littles and Jr. Harris, who added 14 and 13 points respectively, to the offensive punch.
Littles showed a different attitude, consistently attacking the middle of the lane and getting to the hole or drawing the whistle. In the first half Littles paced the 'Runners with 11 points, while his running mate, shooting guard Jr. Harris had 10. Harris drew his second straight start and again he showed that he's able to attack and use his athleticism to finish at the rim. At the break, UTSA led, 41-33.
UTSA (3-12, 1-1) will now hit the road, for a Thursday tilt with defending Conference USA tournament champions UAB, for a 7 p.m. tip off from Birmingham.