In Edinburg Thursday, one team was going to walk out of the Fieldhouse with its first WAC win. UTRGV made sure it was them on their home court with a 82-72 win over Chicago State.
The Vaqueros improved to 1-2 in conference behind strong guard play from Antonio Green and J.J. Thompson.
The duo combined for 39 points to send the Wolverines to 0-3 in WAC.
Thompson, a graduate student, scored 18 points, throwing in eight assists of his own. Green, a freshman, scored 21 of his own, including five three-pointers and six assists.
In the first half, green was 1-4 from range. In the second, however, he drained four of his five three-point attempts. His perseverance and nine attempts allowed for 15 points to be created from long range.
“I finished the first half, I think I made like two or three in a row, but they were mainly two’s,” said Green, a native of Tupelo, Miss. “The first ones I missed I was wide open so I knew I was gonna make them eventually.”
Thompson, who had missed the Vaqueros first two games of the second, fit nicely back into the lineup. He spoke on the chemistry between him and Antonio Green.
“We got a lot of scorers, adding another scorer spaces out the court and makes it hard on the defense,” the 6-foot guard said. “I know he’s an open shooter. If I’m penetrating and I see [Green] in an open spot, I know he’ll knock the shot down.”
Despite strong offense and 50 percent shooting from the field, the first half was close. UTRGV went into the locker room with only a one-point lead.
The Vaqueros had an even game on offense in the first and second half, scoring 40 and then 42 points. The difference maker was the defense that held Chicago State to 33 percent shooting and 33 points.
Head Coach Dan Hipsher is hoping the performance can spark a fire under his team. They will need to take the positives from the victory if they hope to further turn their fortunes around.
“Every game is a new game, a new life. Every game in and of itself is a new beginning,” Hipsher said. “Hopefully, we can build some confidence. I thought we were very nervous early. Hopefully, it will loosen them up to come in and get a win.”
Antonio Green, the leading point-getter, weighed in on what is important if they want to keep winning. His key was concentration, teamwide.
“We just need to focus,” Green said. “All of our problems are just simple things. We just need to focus and pay attention to detail and make sure we’re always locked in.”
The Vaqueros will have the opportunity to start a winning streak on Saturday as UMKC comes into the Fieldhouse for another conference clash.