The UTRGV men’s basketball team was looking to rebound from a Sunday road loss at Texas A&M and did precisely that, as the Vaqueros rallied to beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 68-64 as part of the South Texas Showdown rivalry series Thursday night in Corpus Christi.

It’s the second win for the Vaqueros over the Islanders in just eight days after defeating the Islanders 62-59 at Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg, as part of a doubleheader with the women’s basketball squad. Combined, both UTRGV basketball teams won all four of their contests on the hardwood against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Sophomore forward Quinton Johnson II continued his red-hot start to the season offensively by notching a career-high 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and two assists.

Junior guard Laquon Butler also recorded career highs on the night in both points (17) and 3-pointers made (three).

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi led 25-13 when Butler hit a straight-away 3-pointer from beyond NBA range, his first of three straight baskets to spark a 20-5 run that helped the Vaqueros claim a 33-30 lead.

UTRGV opened the second half strong as well, scoring eight of the game’s first 10 points after halftime.

The Islanders clawed their way back into the contest down the stretch as the Vaqueros pushed their lead to seven on a Butler jumper with 4:42 remaining. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi scored the next six points to pull within 63-62 with 1:17 left.

Redshirt junior power forward Sean Rhea, who made his return to the Vaqueros’ starting five Tuesday after missing the team’s past two games, made a layup with 20 seconds left to push the lead to three. Islanders power forward Perry Francois responded with a jumper a few seconds later, but junior Ricky “Doc” Nelson and Johnson combined to make three free throws to ice the game.

Francois led the Islanders with 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals.

The Vaqueros, who improved to 4-2 on the season with the victory, will host the Texas A&M-International Dustdevils at 6 p.m. Monday at UTRGV Fieldhouse in Edinburg. It will be the third home game this season for the Vaqueros without fans in the stands due to health and safety concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UTRGV Athletic Department announced early Thursday afternoon that the game against the Dustdevils would replace a game previously scheduled for Monday evening at Incarnate Word University in San Antonio, which was canceled after a member of the Cardinals’ tier-one personnel tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week.

 

Fans can watch the UTRGV versus Texas A&M-International game free online at WACDigitalNetwork.com.

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Twitter: @ByAndyMcCulloch