EDINBURG — The UTRGV women’s basketball team has been scorching hot offensively in Western Athletic Conference play.
The Vaqueros (7-9, 2-1) have scored 87 points in two of their first three conference games, a program record for the highest scoring output in WAC competition.
So, how exactly has the Vaqueros offense been able to get into its groove at just the right time? It all starts with defense, according to UTRGV head coach Lane Lord.
“When we play good defense, it’s been creating some really good opportunities for us to get out in transition and use our speed and athleticism, get some transition 3s. In the half court, I think we’ve done a much better job of getting the ball down to Jordan (Agustus) or Desirea (Buerge), working inside out,” Lord said. “It’s what we call the Basketball Gods, if you do things right, touch the paint or the post, then your shot goes in at a little higher percentage, and that’s been working for us.”
Two players who have been going to work offensively have been post Jordan Agustus, a graduate student, and guard Trelynn Tyler, a junior transfer from Tyler Junior College in her first year with UTRGV.
They’ve become UTRGV’s 1-2 punch as Tyler averages 15 points per game, which ranks fourth in WAC, while Agustus scores 12.7 per, ranked seventh in the WAC.
“I think we’ve just been practicing getting off good shots, really getting to know each other and know our weaknesses and our strengths, and we’re putting each other in a position to be successful as a team,” Agustus said.
But the play of Agustus and Tyler on the defensive end of the floor has been just has big for the Vaqueros as their offense.
Tyler leads the WAC with an average of 2.7 steals per game this season, while Agustus also leads the conference in blocks at 2.5 per game.
“They’ve been outstanding,” Lord said. “I think you see their athleticism on a nightly basis.”
Each game, Tyler is tasked with guarding the opposing team’s top perimeter threat. Her on-the-ball pressure tends to disrupt the opposition’s offense.
“By putting pressure on the ball and making people fumble it over, it helps my teammates to be able to get back, snatch it and for us to just go,” Tyler said. “A lot of people aren’t really that good at handling pressure, you’ll get somebody here and there, so pressuring somebody is really a big key for defense.”
“Trey is an unbelievable athlete. She can go all day, she never gets tired, always guards the other team’s best player,” Lord said. “We knew she was great, but she’s better than we thought.”
As for Agustus, her play defensive effort around the rim means no shot is safe.
“Some of Jordan’s blocks have been kind of those blocks in the NBA you see go in the bleachers,” Lord said. “She’s only 6 (feet), but she’s got a knack for reading the ball out of the hand, she’s got great length, and she does a great job of not fouling to get those blocks.”
Agustus credits her teammates for having her back defensively.
“All my life I’ve heard that defense, and pretty much the game of basketball, is all heart, so it doesn’t matter if they’re 6 foot, 7 foot, I just play with heart and my teammates help me with that on the floor,” Agustus said. “When I’m down, they push me and I play for them. Our new slogan is ‘P4E’, play for each other, so me and my teammates try to do that every day, play for each other.”
The Vaqueros will put their “P4E” mentality to the test this week as UTRGV has a two-game homestand against Seattle University tonight and Utah Valley on Saturday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
Tyler, Agustus and the UTRGV defense will be tested as Seattle’s Kamira Sanders, the WAC’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game, comes into town.
“Seattle’s a really tough opponent for us. They run a Princeton style offense, they play with a high-post and they cut off of her, it’s a tough offense to guard. We just have to be locked in defensively,” Lord said. “It’s going to go back to that defense in the post with Jordan and Desirea backing her up, and then Trey will guard their best player. It’s going to be mano a mano, let’s see who wins this battle,” Lord said.
UTRGV and Seattle are set for a 7 p.m. tip-off tonight at the UTRGV Fieldhouse. The Vaqueros will be back in action again at 1 p.m. Saturday as they host a Utah Valley team that is atop the WAC standings at 3-0.