UTRGV Wins Over Dallas Christian in First Game Since Hill's Passing
EDINBURG - In their first game following the tragic death of head coach Lew Hill, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros men's basketball team attacked with discipline during 40 minutes of aggressive full court pressure to beat the Dallas Christian Crusaders 116-51 on Sunday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
Coach Hill always wanted to lead the nation in steals and turnovers forced. In this game, the Vaqueros (9-4) grabbed a program record 27 steals. The previous record of 24 was set on Jan. 5, 1981 against Texas Lutheran.
Additionally, the Vaqueros forced a season-high 47 turnovers, scoring 48 points off those turnovers. This is the first time the Vaqueros have forced at least 30 turnovers since forcing 30 at Texas State on Dec. 5, 2009.
The win is the first collegiate head coaching victory for interim head coach Jai Steadman, who is in his seventh season with the program.
Junior LaQuan Butler led the Vaqueros with a career-high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including a career-high tying 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Junior Sean Rhea scored 19 points with five rebounds, a career-high tying three steals and one block. Junior Marek Nelson scored a career-high 18 points with three rebounds, a career-high tying three assists, one steal and one block. Junior Uche Dibiamaka scored a career-high tying 15 points while draining a career-high tying trio of three-pointers to go with five rebounds, two assists, a career-high five steals and one block. Sophomore Quinton Johnson II scored 13 points with six rebounds, four assists and a career-high four steals. Junior Ricky “Doc” Nelson dished out a career-high 10 assists with a career-high four steals. Junior Malik Lawrence-Anderson grabbed a game-high nine rebounds with two steals and five points. Senior Javon Levi grabbed four steals while sophomore Weslaco alum Isaiah Garcia grabbed his first two steals with a career-high five points.
Versaches Buchanan led the Crusaders with 16 points and four rebounds.
The Vaqueros were hyper aggressive over the first three minutes, building an 8-0 lead.
The Vaqueros extended that lead to 13-2 before a 10-0 Crusaders run made it a one-point game.
The Vaqueros locked down from there, forcing 11 turnovers in a 6:41 span to fuel a 23-0 run to take a 36-12 lead.
Then, with the score 40-18, junior Marek Nelson hit back-to-back baskets to help the Vaqueros score eight-straight points as part of a 12-3 run to end the half with the score 52-21.
The 52-point first half continues a proud tradition of 50-point halves started under Coach Hill, as the Vaqueros recorded 16 halves of at least 50 points during his four and a half-year tenure, including two this year. The Vaqueros only had nine halves of 50 or more points during the eight years prior to Coach Hill’s arrival
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