Vaqueros Win First WAC Tourney Game
LAS VEGAS – Fourth-seeded The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) men's basketball team hit 15 of its first 18 shots to win its first-ever Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Tournament game by beating fifth-seeded CSU Bakersfield 85-70 in the quarterfinals on Thursday at Orleans Arena.
UTRGV (19-15) advances to the semifinals to face top-seed New Mexico State on Friday at 8 p.m. The winner of that game will play for the WAC Tournament Championship on Saturday with a chance to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
With 19 wins, UTRGV is now in the midst of its winningest season since 2001-02, when the team won 20 games, and the 12th winningest season in program history.
UTRGV recorded 10 steals to increase its season total to a program record 323, breaking the previous record of 315 set in 1977-78.
Graduate student Tyson Smith led UTRGV with 19 points with two steals. Sophomore Greg Bowie II led UTRGV scored 16 points while hitting a trio of three-pointers. Senior Terry Winn III scored 14 points with two steals. Sophomore Javon Levi scored 11 points with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Junior Jordan Jackson scored 11 points with five rebounds.
Jarkel Joiner led CSUB (16-15) with 16 points. Taze Moore scored 13 points with nine rebounds, three blocks and four steals. James Suber scored 13 points. Rickey Holden scored 12 points.
The score was tied at 2 after one minute. UTRGV scored the next 12 points, capped by a dunk and a three by Jackson to go up 14-2.
Then, with the score 17-9, Bowie hit a three, a free throw and a jumper to power an 11-0 run to put UTRGV up 28-9.
UTRGV led by as much as 22 in the first half, including 37-15 on a layup by junior Lesley Varner II with 5:42 remaining.
CSU Bakersfield cut the lead to 15 at halftime and then got as close as seven in the second half at 62-55 with 8:54 to play. That’s when Winn and Smith converted back-to-back three-point plays, graduate student Solomon Hainna made a jumper, Smith added two more free throws and then Levi drove to the lane for a layup to push UTRGV’s lead back into double-figures for the rest of the game.