EDINBURG — The UTRGV women’s basketball team shook off a lethargic start, turned up the defense and ultimately played to form to defeat Division II Texas A&M-International 72-56 on Saturday afternoon at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
It was the third straight win for the Vaqueros.
Reserve post player Desirea Buerge sparked the Vaqueros’ comeback with a career-high 17 points, five-steals and tenacious play. Meanwhile, junior guard Trelynn Tyler added 16 points and four assists to cement the nonconference win and improve to 5-4.
“I thought Texas A&M International came in here and really executed. They are a really good team, and boy they had us down,” said UTRGV head coach Lane Lord about tailing by 14 points at the beginning of the second quarter. “Once we settled down, I thought our defense really created offense for us. We were really able to pressure the basketball, and we were able to get that big run. I am proud of our girls.”
The “big run” was decisive, and the difference in the contest. After getting down 24-10 to the Dust Devils, the Vaqueros exploded and went on a five-minute, 19-2 run in the second quarter and created a 29-26 advantage with 3:44 before half.
During the first quarter, UTRGV turned the ball over nine times and made just five field goals. In the second, after Lane called for pressure defense, the Vaqueros forced seven TAMIU turnovers and limited them to four baskets while the home team scored 16 points and lost the ball just twice.
The Vaqueros led 36-33 at half, and then jumped on the Laredo school right after intermission. Tyler scooped up a couple of steals and added two baskets and Buerge added another to put UTRGV up 42-33 with 8:30 left in the third. TAMIU never threatened after that.
“We had to get back to the game plan. That was the first priority. Get the ball back to the point and get the post touches and so by doing that, that made the flow of the game better,” said Buerge, a 6-foot graduate transfer student who did not play basketball last year and said it was great to be back on the court.
She started the game in place of Jordan Agustus, who was “currently unable to participate in team-related activities,” according to UTRGV.
The second- and third-quarter surges were a reversal of fortunes that righted the ship for UTRGV as it avoided what could have been an embarrassing loss to a 4-5 Div. II school. In the end, the Vaqueros’ defense, shot making and toughness in the post proved too much for the Dust Devils.
During the Vaqueros’ effort that turned the game around, several other players besides Tyler and Buerge made key contributions such as junior guard Zhane Templeton, who had 13 points, and freshman guard Halie Jones, who canned 3 of 4 3-point attempts.
TAMIU guard Patrycja Jawarska gave the Vaqueros fits all afternoon and finished with 20 points.
The Vaqueros face Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. Thursday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse as part of the South Texas Showdown