NATHANIEL MATA | STAFF WRITER
EDINBURG — UTRGV women’s basketball came into Saturday afternoon’s tilt against Texas Southern hoping to stretch their season high, four-game winning streak to five.
Tigers graduate guard Marquia Turner had other ideas as her stellar individual effort helped lift the visitors to a 69-55 win over the Vaqueros at the UTRGV Fieldhouse in Edinburg.
The Vaqueros fell to 6-4 on the season, while the Tigers moved to 3-5.
Turner was nearly unstoppable from beyond the three-point line. She made her first five 3-pointers and finished the game with a career-high 26 points.
“She made big shot after big shot but our kids knew that going in,” UTRGV coach Lane Lord said after the loss. “You can’t leave her, she’s a great shooter. (Against Turner) you have to have high hands, you can’t miss assignments on closeouts. When we’re switching, we switch a lot on the perimeter, if you have your hands down she made you pay.”
Her first three-pointer came with 3:22 to play in the first quarter to extend TSU’s lead to 14-3.
Shooting from the field was the weakest area of the game for the Vaqueros, who had won against St. Thomas, Prairie View A&M, and Louisiana in their past four outings.
In that stretch, their lowest shooting percentage was 33 percent in a 57-50 win over PVAMU. On Saturday, UTRGV shot 23 percent for the game.
“Only five made baskets in the first half, only eight made baskets in the second half,” Lord said. “You’re not going to beat anybody doing that.”
Madison Northcutt led the way for UTRGV with 15 points on two made field goals and 11 free throws. Jameka Dowell had 12 points on three field goals, one three-pointer and five-for-five shooting from the free-throw line.
“We did a lot of good things,” UTRGV coach Lane Lord said. “We rebounded the ball very well, we had 22 offensive rebounds, which shows effort. The turnovers were costly early and then just not putting the ball in the hole. We were getting wide open shots. In college basketball when you’re wide open you have to make the shot, at least half the time, right?”
Earning trips to the foul line was key to keeping the Vaqueros within striking distance most of the game. They hit 27 of 33 free throws, which is fourth-most made free-throws in program history.
Northcutt led the team with 10 rebounds. It was her fifth time with 10 or more rebounds in a game and her fourth double-double in 10 NCAA D1 games for the former Pittsburg State forward.
The Vaqueros second unit, headed by Jameka Dowell, Nichelle Hyman and Quynne Huggins was a bright spot for the team.
“I thought our second group, they really gave us a lift in the second half to try to get us back in the game,” Lord said.
Both teams combined for 53 fouls, UTRGV drew 28. Dowell said her team gets going through physicality and her group thrives on that style of play.
“I think we kind of play better whenever it’s physical because it kind of gets the energy going and gets everybody pumped and ready to go,” Dowell said. “I think we’re more defensive-oriented. We’re more the group that will dive on the floor and get up in people’s shorts. Hard-nosed kids, I think that’s the difference.”
UTRGV will have 10 days off as students take finals and end the fall semester. The next three games will be the toughest of the season starting with a Dec. 20 home game against the University of Texas. After facing the 12th-ranked Horns they will take on Texas A&M and No. 4 Baylor on the road.
Dowell is prepared to face some of the nation’s best competition.
“I just feel like anytime you play a team that’s better or an upper (tier) team, I feel like it just gives you even more reason,” Dowell said. “You have nothing to lose so why not lay it all on the floor. I feel like that’s going to a really good testimony and a really good test for us.”