EDINBURG — Before Saturday, the last time the UTRGV women’s basketball team lost four straight games was during the 2012-13 season — the year before Larry Tidwell took over as the program’s coach and began his run of unprecedented success.
In posting the first three winning seasons in Division I program history, Tidwell and the Vaqueros were typically dominant at home. After knocking off Canisius in the UTRGV Fieldhouse on Dec. 19, UTRGV was 48-13 at home during Tidwell’s tenure. Since then, UTRGV has lost four straight on its home court, most recently falling 65-59 to Grand Canyon on Saturday. The four-game losing streak at home is the program’s first since a stretch that spanned Nov. 25, 2002, to Jan. 9, 2003.
“We’re struggling right now,” Tidwell said. “We have to get our mojo back, and we’ll see if we can’t get it back.”
The loss drops UTRGV to 10-8 overall and 0-3 to open the WAC season. Since jumping out to the best start in program history at 9-2, UTRGV has lost six of its past seven games.
“The difference between then and now is just that we’re taking our defensive abilities that we know we have for granted, and we’re not being 110 percent on the defensive end, which is leading us to not very good offense,” UTRGV’s Quynne Huggins said. “For us, good defense will lead to good offense.”
Good offense was hard to come by on Saturday, as Tidwell again pointed to “an inability to make shots” as UTRGV’s biggest downfall. Through the first three quarters, UTRGV shot just 30.2 percent from the field and 17.4 percent from beyond the arc with 14 turnovers.
UTRGV connected on 9 of 16 shots and 5 of 7 beyond the arc during the fourth quarter, but the surge was too late to complete a rally.
“I think they’re doing a lot better than I am,” Tidwell said of his players’ reactions to the losing streak. “It’s one of those things — these kids hate to lose. I’m not criticizing them, but it has to be a little more intense. We came out flat, and I don’t know why.”
Grand Canyon’s lead was just 22-20 at halftime before the Lopes used a 9-0 run to build a 35-24 advantage with 4:34 to play in the third quarter. UTRGV didn’t pull any closer than six until late in the final quarter.
Brie Mobley, Grand Canyon’s leading scorer entering the night with an average of 19.4 points per game, scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half.
“We just had too many mental lapses,” UTRGV’s Megan Johnson said. “On defense, a lot of the time. We need to be solid for the whole 40 minutes, and today we weren’t.”
A losing streak is uncharted territory for the current roster, as the program last lost four straight games between Dec. 22, 2012, and Jan. 12, 2013.
“We can’t keep coming out and be like, ‘Oh, we lost the last game,’” Johnson said. “We need to come out and be like, ‘This game is ours.’ That’s where we need to be next game.”
UTRGV is one of only two winless teams through the first two weeks of WAC play, joining Chicago State at 0-3.
Next week, UTRGV travels to face 2-1 Utah Valley on Thursday and 2-1 Seattle U on Saturday.
“We’re just trying to stay positive,” Huggins said. “Keep good, positive vibes throughout the team on and off the court. If we catch ourselves being down, knowing that we are 0-3 in conference, I think it’s just important to keep our heads up and focus on the next game.”