EDINBURG – A season that saw The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) men’s basketball team win 20 games for the first time in 17 years and advance to the second round of a postseason tournament for the first time in 51 years came to an end with a 94-85 loss to Texas Southern University (TSU) in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) on Monday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse in front of a crowd of 2,216.
This season tied for the eighth-winningest in program history. This was the first time UTRGV had hosted two postseason games since 1965-66 and the first time at the NCAA Division I level.
UTRGV (20-17) averaged 2,144 fans per game during its postseason run. 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 18 points. Senior Terry Winn III scored 17 points with nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior Jordan Jackson scored 15 points. Junior Lesley Varner II scored 11 points with five rebounds. Sophomore Javon Levi scored seven points with a career-high 13 assists and a career-high tying seven steals, tied for the 10th-highest single-game total in program history.
Levi finishes the season with a program record 109 steals, also the second-highest single-season total in Western Athletic Conference history. He now ranks fifth in program history with 144-career steals.
UTRGV finishes with a program record 345 steals and a program record 654 turnovers forced. UTRGV also set program records for free throws made and attempted, going 641-for-923.
Jeremy Combs led TSU (23-13) with 27 points, 17 rebounds and two steals. Tyrik Armstrong scored 16 points with seven assists and four steals. John Jones scored 12 points. Devocio Butler scored 11 points with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Jalyn Patterson scored 10 points with four assists and two blocks.
UTRGV led for most of the first half, going up 11-4 on a Varner three.
TSU had led 2-0 and didn’t lead again until a Combs layup made the score 44-43 early in the second half.
Levi and Smith responded with layups and UTRGV scored eight-straight points as part of a 17-6 run to take a 60-50 lead with 14:49 remaining.
TSU answered with a 14-2 run to take a 64-63 lead. UTRGV and TSU traded baskets over the next four possessions before a pair of Winn layups and a Levi free throw put UTRGV up 71-68 with 8:04 to go.
Another Winn layup brought UTRGV within 74-73 at the 5:20 mark, but Armstrong hit two threes and Patterson made one in a span of 30 seconds to put TSU up 82-73 and push the game out of reach.