LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros men’s basketball team saw its six-game winning streak come to an end with a 78-62 loss to the New Mexico State University Aggies on Saturday at the Pan American Center.
UTRGV (12-15, 7-6 WAC) is now tied with Grand Canyon (7-6 WAC) and Seattle U (7-6 WAC) in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
Senior Lesley Varner II led the Vaqueros with 23 points, six rebounds and two steals. This is the third-straight game and fifth time in six games in which Varner has scored exactly 23 points. Junior Javon Levi posted his fourth double-double of the season with 13 points, 11 assists and three steals. Freshman Quinton Johnson II knocked down three three-pointers for nine points.
Jabari Rice led the Aggies (22-6, 13-0 WAC) with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Terrell Brown finished with 18 points.
Johnson and Varner hit a pair of early threes as the Vaqueros jumped out to a 9-2 lead.
The Vaqueros also led by seven at 12-5 on a three by junior Chris Freeman and 14-7 on a dunk by graduate student Jordan Jackson. That’s when the Aggies went on a 17-2 run to take a 24-16 lead.
The Vaqueros pulled within 25-21 on a Johnson three before the Aggies scored 14-straight points to go up 39-21.
The Vaqueros trailed 44-27 in the opening minute of the second half when Levi, Johnson and Varner hit consecutive threes to bring the Vaqueros within 44-36.
Then, with the score 51-39, Varner bookended a 9-1 run with jumpers to help the Vaqueros climb to within 52-48, but that’s as close as they got.
UTRGV is back in action on Thursday at 9 p.m. at CSU Bakersfield on ESPN3