EDINBURG — UTRGV jumped out to a 9-2 advantage on Missouri-Kansas City to begin Thursday night’s Western Athletic Conference home game, but the Vaqueros’ lead only held up for four minutes of the first quarter.
The UMKC Kangaroos roared back behind their length and size down low to outmuscle UTRGV for a 72-58 victory at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
After playing tough on the road for three straight games, the home loss drops the Vaqueros’ record to 9-13 overall and 4-5 in WAC competition.
“I thought we got off to a really nice start, but their zone really frustrated us all night and they did a great job with not only their half court zone, but full court zone. We started missing shots and then it became a little bit of an effort issue. The loss is all on me,” UTRGV head coach Lane Lord said. “We’re playing really well on the road and we should be flying sky high, so you got to have your team prepared and I certainly didn’t do that tonight and that’s on me.”
The ‘Roos outscored UTRGV 38-24 in the paint and outshot the Vaqueros 44.6% to 35.5%. Although UTRGV managed to win the rebounding battle 42-40, UMKC made the most of their opportunities with second-chance points from inside and some big 3s from long range.
“They got some huge offensive rebounds and kick out 3s. They have a deadly shooter in (Emily) Ivory, and then of course (Ericka) Mattingly is arguably the best player in the league and we let them get going early and that really hurt us,” Lord said. “Give UMKC a lot of credit. They outplayed us and outcoached us tonight. Hopefully, we’ll see them again.”
Mattingly led all scorers with 17 points, and Ivory drained four shots from 3 for UMKC.
UTRGV’s Amara Graham finished with a team-high 14 points on four made 3s, while Ashlei Lopez was a bright spot for the Vaqueros as the redshirt sophomore added 12 off the bench.
Lopez sparked a late run as the Vaqueros managed to score 16 straight points at one point during the fourth quarter, but UMKC was out comfortably in front as they held on for a 14-point win.
“I was proud of the group at the end, they had a nice fight to them,” Lord said. “Ashlei did some really nice things. She needed that because she struggled a little bit, so it was neat to see her do that and we’ll take the positive and hopefully next game she can continue.”
UTRGV will be looking to bounce back at noon Saturday as the Vaqueros play host to Chicago State at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.