After coming off of a heartbreaking overtime loss against Seattle University at home, the Utah Valley men’s basketball team would hope to bounce back. They were visiting UT Rio Grande Valley on Thursday, Feb. 13. However, the visit to Edinburg, Texas wouldn’t go as planned as UVU suffered yet another setback, losing 80-72.
This was the second matchup between the Vaqueros and Wolverines already this season. It took a game-winning layup by junior guard Isaiah White in that game when the Vaqueros visited Orem on Jan. 18 and left with a 72-70 loss.
Going into this game, UVU had won a whopping 15 straight games over UTRGV. The last time the Vaqueros were able to knock off the Wolverines was a two-point win in January of 2013 in Edinburg.
Both teams traded buckets early on until the Vaqueros were able to gain a comfortable lead. UTRGV would end up creating an even more favorable lead heading into the half up by 10 with a score of 35-25.
It was hot shooting from everywhere but three for the Vaqueros in the first half. They didn’t make one shot from behind the arc, but still were able to shoot 50% overall and 90% from the free throw line.
The Wolverines shooting woke up in the second half as they improved in each category in half number two. But, the double-digit halftime lead that UTRGV held proved to be just too insurmountable.
UVU was able to get the deficit under double-digits a few times but couldn’t overcome poor free throw shooting and weren’t able to get out in transition as often as they would’ve liked. If you’ve watched the Wolverines much at all this season, you’d know that their offense thrives on transition buckets. Unfortunately, those were few and far between in this contest.
Overall on the evening, the Wolverines didn’t have the most favorable shooting numbers. They shot 46% from the field, 31% from three and just 52% from the line. In contrast, the Vaqueros ended the game shooting a horrid 15% from three but a solid 88% from the charity stripe.
The Vaqueros were led by junior guard Javon Levi and senior forward Lesley Varner II. Levi led the team in points with 17 and Varner II had a double-double with 11 points and 14 boards.
A more impressive double-double came from White, who missed the previous game with an injury, and had a game-high 23 points with 10 boards. Two more Wolverines scored in double-digits as junior guard’s Casdon Jardine and Brandon Averette each had 13 points.
With the loss, UVU still holds the all-time lead in the series against UTRGV at 26-4. The Wolverines will now head to Las Cruces, New Mexico in hopes of ending the three-game skid as they will take on New Mexico State on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 4 p.m. MST.
Photo by Cameron Hunsinger