Following a pair of losses against a tough Florida opposition to start the season, UTRGV returned home to try to find winning ways. The Vaqueros split their pair of games this weekend, adding emphasis on Tuesday’s game against Southeast Missouri to make the homestand a winning one.
In this afternoon’s home game, the Portland State University Vikings, members of the Big Sky Conference, exited the Valley victorious with a 79-61 win over the Vaqueros.
Shooting was an issue for the Vaqueros all game long. The first half only saw nine out of 32 made field goals, contributing to just 22 points at the break. The second half saw more offense out of the home team but missed shots continued to plague them down the stretch and any opportunity to claw back in the game fell short.
The slow start was too much to overcome. Leading scorer for the Vaqueros, with 18 points, senior forward Shaq Hines said he felt a lack of energy in his team.
“We’re letting them come in and compete harder than us,” Hines said. “Everybody should have the energy to go out there and compete every day.”
Any UTRGV run was quickly extinguished. The Vikings were able to continue to score while being scored on. Fast break points were 8-0 in favor of Portland State University. The final shooting percentages were 49.3 percent for the guests and 32.4 percent for the home team.
Shooting from range, behind the arc, was another major weak point. The Vaqueros were 4-19 shooting from three-point. Dakota Slaughter was 0-5 and Antonio Green was 2-6, a pair of players that led the 8-18 three-point shooting performance on Friday.
Starters struggled from the field, shooting 19-60 but the bench only was able to add 11 points. Nine of those points came from redshirt sophomore Adonis Rwabigwi, who at 4-7 was the team’s best percentage shooting player.
Head Coach Dan Hipsher made note of the bench that did not add enough.
“Other than Adonis [Rwabigwi] there was no bench,” Hipsher said. “We talked at halftime on what to do and he did it. It’s great to see somebody respond. It’s a simple game; you just got to do what you do and do it well.”
UTRGV will have to continue to grow and find scoring options for the times when the first five cannot find their rhythm.
This wasn’t an issue in the first home game of the weekend, where offense was not a worry at all.
In Friday’s home opener, with Texas A&M University-Kingsville visiting, the Vaqueros offense came to life with 78 points in a 78-56 win. TAMUK, an NCAA Division II opponent, did compete but the Vaqueros were too much in the end for opponents.
Four different Vaqueros scored points in the double digits. Antonio Green scored 20, leading all scorers. Slaughter scored 16, while Hines added 12 points, 10 rebounds to record a double-double. Point guard J.J. Thompson scored 11 and eight assists.
Rebounding in the win was also in favor of UTRGV, 47-34 was the edge.
Next up for the Vaqueros are Southeast Missouri State University. The quick turnaround will complete a stretch of three games in five days.
Hipsher said he was eager to get his team playing again to get back on the winning path. However, the physical concerns of a packed schedule on his players was also on his mind.
“Well, fatigue-wise it’s a bit of a problem,” Hipsher said. “Games come around fast, same as our league. What we did was the easy part of it, we’re the home team. But, we’re going to have to be able to pick our energy up.”
Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday and can be seen on the Time Warner Cable Sports channel.