UTRGV Men Win Thriller To Open Postseason
EDINBURG – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) men's basketball team recorded its first-ever NCAA Division I postseason victory by opening the 2019 CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) with a 74-73 victory over Grambling State University (GSU) on Wednesday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse in front of a crowd of 2,071.
The Vaqueros will next host Texas Southern in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) on Monday at 7 p.m. at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
With 20 wins, UTRGV is now in the midst of its winningest season since 2001-02, when the team also won 20 games, and tied for the eighth winningest season in program history. UTRGV last won 21 games in 1989-90.
This was UTRGV’s first postseason win since the opening round of the 1968 NCAA Division II Tournament. UTRGV is now 18-11 all-time in the postseason, including a 6-2 record at home, with the previous seven games occurring before the fieldhouse was built (1969).
This was UTRGV’s second largest home crowd of the season and largest at the fieldhouse since Feb. 18, 2017, when UTRGV drew 2,234 fans for a game against New Mexico State.
Graduate student Tyson Smith led UTRGV with 19 points while hitting a career-high tying four three-pointers and dishing out a career-high seven assists. Junior Lesley Varner II scored 14 points with six rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Javon Levi scored 14 points with seven assists and three steals. Senior Terry Winn III scored 10 points with six rebounds. Junior Jordan Jackson finished with 10 points and two blocks.
Dallas Polk-Hillard led GSU (17-17) with 22 points. Prince Moss scored 16 points with six rebounds. Axel Mpoyo scored 12 points. Ivy Smith Jr. scored 11 points with 13 assists.
UTRGV trailed 70-63 with 4:53 remaining. That’s when Smith hit a three and two free throws and Winn sunk a layup to tie the game.
Polk-Hilliard nailed a three with 1:11 left to put GSU back on top, but Winn made a layup with 57.9 seconds left and then knocked down a pair of free throws with 9.8 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
UTRGV and GSU traded baskets over the first four and a half minutes before Jackson used a layup and a three to power a 10-0 run to give UTRGV a 19-8 lead.
GSU responded with a 22-7 run to take a 30-26 lead before UTRGV went on another 10-0 run, capped by a Varner jumper, to regain the lead.
GSU then scored 11 of the final 17 points of the half to pull within 42-41.
Jackson opened the second half with a three, but GSU responded by scoring six-straight points to take the lead.
UTRGV led by as much as four at 60-56 on a Levi free throw before GSU went on a 14-3 run to go up seven.