EDINBURG — For the second straight game, UTRGV found itself in a double-digit hole during the second half.
While the Vaqueros overcame that in their overtime victory against Seattle on Thursday, UTRGV didn’t have enough to do it again Saturday against Utah Valley, losing 76-67 at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
UVU, the top team in the Western Athletic Conference, now at 5-0 and 8-9 overall, used an 11-0 run to start the third quarter and carried that double-digit lead into the fourth.
UTRGV once again battled back as the Vaqueros cut the Wolverines advantage to 65-64 with 2:38 to go in the final quarter thanks to a three-point play from Jordan Agustus and 11 second-half points from Desirea Buerge.
A couple of possessions later with the shot clock running down, UVU’s Jordan Holland heaved a 3-pointer at the basket that hit the back of the rim before bouncing through the net to beat the buzzer.
The loss is UTRGV’s first at home in WAC play as the Vaqueros fall to 8-10 on the year and 3-2 in conference action.
“Utah Valley is undefeated in the league for a reason. They make winning plays at the end of the game and really executed well down the stretch,” UTRGV head coach Lane Lord said. “I was proud of our group and the way we fought back. We get within one then they throw up a 30-foot miracle. … All in all, our effort was great. It’s just a tough loss at home.”
Agustus, who finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists, felt disappointed after the comeback fell short.
“I definitely think we let this one slip away. I feel like Utah Valley is a great team, but I feel like we let this one slip away and we’ll definitely see them down the line,” she said.
One positive Agustus took away from the defeat, however, was UTRGV’s effort.
“We fight, man. We’re a team full of fighters,” Agustus said. “We can be down 20, we’re still going to fight. I have so much confidence in this team, we just have so many hustlers on this team. We fight.”
Amara Graham added 14 points, and Buerge scored 13 points off the bench to go with three rebounds, one steal and two 3-pointers on 66% shooting from deep.
“I think Desirea Buerge came to play, and then we she got tired, we put Jordan in and she did great. We should have kept pounding it down there and get fouled,” Lord said.
Over her past two games, Buerge, a graduate student from Webb City, Missouri, has scored 30 points off the bench in relief of Agustus.
“I’m proud of Des. Des has had a great week so far,” Agustus said. “I think we could conquer this whole league, but as of now we take it game by game, practice by practice and try to make each other better.”
UTRGV will get set for a three-game road swing as the Vaqueros face New Mexico State (6-12, 3-2 WAC) at 7 p.m. Thursday. After an open day this upcoming Saturday, UTRGV will hit the road again the following week to take on Grand Canyon (7-8, 2-2 WAC) and California State Bakersfield (11-5, 3-0 WAC).
UTRGV road games can be viewed on WACDigitalNetwork.com.