BY NATHANIEL MATA | STAFF WRITER
EDINBURG — The UTRGV women’s basketball team bounced back from its first back-to-back Western Athletic Conference losses in a big way Thursday night with an 84-38 win over Chicago State.
The Vaqueros improved to 9-5 in WAC Conference play to leap over their next opponent, UMKC, which fell to WAC leader, New Mexico State.
Chicago State, which drops to 2-12 in conference play, struggled to contain UTRGV from the first possession.
By the first break in action, the lead was already 14-0. Amara Graham started the game with a 3-pointer and Megan Johnson got the crowd to their feet with her conversion to beat a shot-clock violation.
“I thought we really came out of the gates well and we just played awesome offensively,” UTRGV coach Lane Lord said. “I thought Amara was huge early to find open players in transition.”
Graham finished with seven assists to lead the charge for the Vaqueros, who had 22 assists as a team.
Smooth offense was the mantra, but aggressive defense often fueled the high-octane attack.
Chicago State’s 38 points tied the mark for fewest point allowed this season (Texas Lutheran 11/10).
Quick-strike baskets were in abundance as UTRGV finished with 23 fast-break points.
“Being as aggressive as we were, I think it can leave a statement for a lot of people, to a lot of teams in this conference, that we won’t slack off on the defense.” senior Quynne Huggins said.
At halftime, UTRGV was shooting more than 50 percent and had a 43-22 advantage.
The third quarter quickly turned into the Idil Türk show as the senior showcased her sweet stroke in her second-to-last home game. She hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter and scored all of her 14 points in the frame.
“Seeing her be able to heat up like that, I was very excited … and I’m excited for what’s going to happen in the future for her, especially in the tournament.” Huggins said.
Türk, the native of Turkey, is third on the all-time program list with 155 made 3-point field goals.
UTRGV hit 11 3-pointers and seven different players connected on long-range baskets.
“Everybody scored today, we had a lot of energy today and everyone was cheering for each other,” Türk said. “It was one of our best games offensively, and defensively too.”
Madison Northcutt had 11 points while Huggins, Graham and Johnson all put in nine.
Lord was able to tap into the depth of his roster with a sizable second-half lead and his bench didn’t disappoint with 26 points.
Edinburg Vela grad Daniela Azubell made a 3-pointer to get in on the 3-point barrage, asdid redshirt junior Natalie Ready, who scored her first points as a Vaquero.
“Dani’s worked hard all year long and she fired it in there,” Lord said. “That’s what makes it fun – like Turk said, everyone was involved and everybody got to contribute tonight.”
Point guard Shaiann Tramble had three assists and two steals.
Senior day is set for Saturday as UTRGV hosts UMKC, which were part of the three-way tie prior to Thursday. The Kangaroos couldn’t hold on to a late lead against New Mexico State. Utah Valley was idle.