EDINBURG — The UTRGV women’s basketball team’s three-game winning streak came to an end Thursday as the Vaqueros dropped the second leg of the South Texas Showdown 59-54 against rival Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
Guards Trelynn Tyler (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Amara Graham (14 points) sparked a second-half comeback by the Vaqueros as they captured their first lead early during the fourth quarter, pushing it to 46-42. But the Islanders rallied with 10 straight points to steal the victory and defeat UTRGV for the second time this season.
“It comes down to a couple missed assignments during the game. We missed a breakaway there at the end and had some other opportunities that we just came up a little short, but our effort was good,” UTRGV head coach Lane Lord said.
He felt UTRGV’s play on the defensive end of the floor was thorough from beginning to end, but added that the Vaqueros have to find some answers offensively.
“In a college basketball game, when you hold a team to less than 60 points, you should win. So we’ve got to find something to hang our hat on offense,” Lord said.
While a loss to rival Texas A&M-Corpus Christi may sting, an even bigger blow for the Vaqueros was that of Megan Johnson, a senior and a team captain, exiting the game and not returning after suffering a left ankle injury early during the second quarter.
“Losing Megan really hurt us because she had the matchup with Emma Young, and Emma ended up having a really good game. She had 15 points and we really didn’t have anybody to guard her, and she did a great job,” Lord said. “Hopefully we can get her back after the Christmas break, but she’s a tough kid. She’ll want to work hard to get back and we need her, she’s kind of the heart and soul. She’s tough as nails and we really need her physicality, and her leadership is outstanding.”
Graham upped her offensive game after Johnson exited, and she understands the Vaqueros will need other teammates to help fill the senior’s shoes if she’s out for an extended period of time.
“I just think that means the next man on our team has to step up, whether that be me or whether it’s any of my teammates, I’m always behind all of them. We know Megan is one of our best players, so if she’s out, we all gotta bring it 10 times harder than we’ve been playing all year, so I think it’s just an opportunity for somebody else on our team to step up,” Graham said.
Another played who stepped up on Thursday was Desirea Buerge, a graduate student who battled inside all night against the Islanders’ Alexes Bryant. Buerge brought down eight rebounds, including six on the offensive end, had three assists, two points and two steals.
UTRGV will now begin a four-game road swing as they take on Southern California on Dec. 18 before taking part in the USC Tournament on Dec. 20 and 21 with games against Long Beach State and Nevada.
The Vaqueros next home game will be their Western Athletic Conference opener against California Baptist on Jan. 4 at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.