UTRGV’s last home game of the season is in the books. Lone senior Rickell Preston was recognized in her final game in front of the home crowd. She will be able to look back at Senior Day with fondly after the Vaqueros came out on top 78-56 against Chicago State University.
The win clutched the second consecutive winning season and kept pace with Utah Valley University, who the Vaqueros are still tied with in second place.
It was the visitors early in the game who jumped out to a first quarter lead. The Vaqueros’ poor shooting in the first quarter kept the score in single digits. Chicago State University did not take full advantage of the low scoring quarter. The score after the first quarter was 9-15.
The 2-18 shooting start gave way to better shooting following the first quarter.
UTRGV settled in and looked more like itself when the second quarter started, closing the deficit within minutes. With four minutes left in the half, UTRGV already had stretched its lead to double digits.
Offense finally came from the combination of Shawnte’ Goff and Preston. Goff lead the way as she warmed up from the field and finished the first half with 20 points on 7-13 shooting. Preston scored 7 after 20 minutes.
After the game, Preston said she treated it like “just a normal day.” She expanded on that by pointing out her focus to a championship.
“I want to win the WAC Championship, that would be special to me,” the senior said before joining the rest of her team.
Head Coach Larry Tidwell said going from two games a week to one can mess with a team’s routine.
“I tell you, you play one game a week it just gets you out of your rhythm completely,” Tidwell said. “They came out and got after it. We really played well and scored 30 points in the second quarter.”
On defense, the Vaqueros only allowed 6 points against, a turnaround from allowing 15 points in the first.
The slow start was quickly erased and a 30-point second quarter gave the home team a 39-21 halftime advantage.
In the second half, UTRGV was able to maintain its large lead and cruise to the win. It outscored Chicago State University 39-35.
UTRGV was able to spread minutes to its bench as well as give starters valuable minutes, albeit less than a tighter contest. The Vaqueros got scoring from 12 different players, eight different players had at least a field goal.
Leading scorer Goff commended her bench scoring after the game.
“When we’re on, we’re on,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if the starting five is on, because the bench’s intensity matches ours even though they aren’t in the game until they actually get on. Like [Idil] Turk, she’s our go to shooter. We expect her to shoot in anybody’s face and she did that tonight.”
Tidwell echoed similar sentiments about the ability of his bench to contribute.
“They can come and score and we work on it. We work with them very hard so I like what I’m seeing,” he said.
Turk finished with three three-pointers, good for all nine of her points.
Only one WAC game remains on UTRGV’s schedule. It travels to conference powerhouse New Mexico State University, which already clinched the WAC regular season title.
Tidwell said not to look at the New Mexico State University game as a preview of the WAC championship just yet.
“I’m more worried about how we play every game,” Tidwell said. [University of Missouri–Kansas City] took New Mexico State to overtime tonight. We got to take it one game at a time.”
Following that matchup, it’s onto Las Vegas for UTRGV as it tries to make a run at the WAC tournament title in March.