UTRGV Beats St. Mary's

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EDINBURG – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros men's basketball team blew out the St. Mary’s University Rattlers 96-67 on Thursday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.

The Vaqueros are now off to a 6-3 start for the first time since 2004-05, when the team started 7-3.


Junior LaQuan Butler led the Vaqueros with a career-high 20 points on a career-best 8-of-11 shooting, including a career-best 4-of-6 from downtown. Junior Sean Rhea scored 13 points with six rebounds. Junior Marek Nelson finished with 12 points with three assists and two steals. Junior Uche Dibiamaka scored 11 points with two steals. In his UTRGV debut, graduate student Jeff Otchere recorded four blocks and five rebounds while scoring seven points.


Tyler Caron led the Rattlers with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Caleb Jordan scored 11 points with five assists. Miles McDougal scored 12 points. Mamady Djikine finished with 10 points, five rebounds and two steals.


The Rattlers led 5-3 out of the gate, but the Vaqueros scored the next eight points as part of a 24-8 run to take a 27-13 lead. Nelson put an exclamation point on the run by rocking the rim with an alley-oop by using a feed from junior Ricky “Doc” Nelson. The Vaqueros hit nine of their 13 shots during the run, including the first UTRGV basket for Otchere, a transfer from Stony Brook.


The Vaqueros extended their lead to 35-17 on back-to-back threes by Butler and Marek Nelson, and then took their largest lead of the half at 44-25 on a Butler layup toward the end of the half.


The Vaqueros scored the first six points of the second half, capped by a Rhea dunk, to take a 50-28 lead.


The Rattlers responded with a 10-0 run to pull to within 12. Then, with the score 52-40, Dibiamaka and senior Chris Freeman hit back-to-back three-pointers to spark a 16-0 run to put the Vaqueros up 68-40 and push the game out of reach.


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