RGV Vipers struggle on defense in loss to Reno Bighorns


HIDALGO — RGV Vipers coach Matt Brase summarized his team’s performance in a simple sentence when asked to come up with something positive.

“There’s nothing,” he said. “Not a single thing.”

The visiting Reno Bighorns shot nearly 60 percent from the floor and ran to a 152-130 victory over the Vipers on Saturday at State Farm Arena.

The Bighorns (10-10) dominated from the start, leading by as many as 11 points in the first quarter before the Vipers clawed their way back to within two at the half, 72-70.

“We were outplayed from the jump ball,” Brase said. “There was no effort defensively, and we have to fix that, maybe put some people in different to play.”

The loss was the Vipers’ fourth in the past five games as the team fell to 5-5 at home. They have a 10-3 record on the road. Prior to the recent 1-4 mark, the Vipers ran off 13 straight wins, which followed three losses to open the season.

Reno’s 152 points were a season best, eclipsing the previous mark of 133 set Dec. 26. Marcus Williams led the Bighorns with 25 points, shooting 6 of 8 from 3-point land.

Tony Wroten led the Vipers with 25 points. Wroten picked up three fouls in the first half and played just 25 minutes.

“It doesn’t matter how many points I scored — we lost,” he said. “We didn’t get into a rhythm, and it’s difficult to get into a rhythm when you don’t play defense. I’d rather score zero points and win. We have one of the most talented teams in this league, and we just need to fix some things and move forward.”

RGV trailed by just two to start the third quarter, but Reno went on a 14-4 run to open the period and led 86-74 three minutes into the third. Later in the quarter, Tyler Lydon hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close the gap to 96-92, but the Vipers wouldn’t get any closer. Lydon had 15 points and 10 rebounds at the half and finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds, not getting as many looks in the second half.

“They closed in a little bit,” Lydon said. “We just couldn’t get any stops. Then they got into a rhythm and started making even the tough shots. We have some small things to fix, and we just need to forget about tonight and fix those things.”

The Vipers were playing without Monte Morris, who was out with a wrist injury. Newly acquired Cleanthony Early, who scored 29 points in his Vipers debut on Dec. 26, was limited to 3-of-11 shooting and just nine points.

“He just needs to learn to play within the system,” Brase said. “But if you give up 152 points and let a team shoot 60 percent, you’re never going to win any games.”