Despite a career performance from junior forward Andres Ibarguen, the men’s basketball team was unable to snap a three-game losing streak as they fell to UT-Rio Grande Valley 76-65 Saturday at College Park Center.
“Just because we’re 3-5 and sitting here right now, we’ve got bigger goals and visions for this program,” head coach Chris Ogden said. “We’re not going to hide behind those expectations.”
Freshman forward Patrick Mwamba made his return to College Park Center after missing three games because of an ankle injury he suffered in a Nov. 16 matchup versus Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
While Mwamba returned, Ibarguen made his home-court debut. The NCAA cleared the Colombia native to play earlier this week against the University of Tulsa after missing the first six games.
“It was amazing,” Ibarguen said about playing under the stadium lights for the first time. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long that now that I have the opportunity, I’m just giving my maximum effort, like, giving my everything.”
Ibarguen was a sharp-shooter for UTA, shooting 83 percent from the field and leading the team with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Despite Ibarguen’s double-double performance, it was turnovers and 3-point shooting that proved costly for the Mavericks.
UTA was 0-10 from beyond the arc until junior guard Radshad Davis knocked down a 3-pointer to bring the Mavericks within one during a neck-and-neck battle in the second half.
The Mavericks held the lead twice throughout the game, once in each half. Their biggest lead of the matchup came in the second half when foul trouble put the Mavericks ahead 56-54.
Ibarguen dominated the court in the first half, leading both teams with 11 points and six rebounds at the break. Despite his offensive performance, the Mavericks trailed by as much as six points before bringing themselves within three at half time.
Junior guard Brian Warren, who has been a consistent shooter for the Mavericks, was held to single digits for the first time this season.
Heading into the second half, UTRGV held all Mavericks, except for Ibarguen, to no more than five points. Ibarguen turned up the heat in the second half with 100 percent shooting, but it wasn’t enough as the Vaqueros cruised away with the win.
Over the last few games, the final minutes have been crucial for the Mavericks, where the game is head-to-head and the final score doesn’t reflect how close the game was. With that, Ogden said he will continue to put his team under those types of second half situations in practice to help them prepare.
“We’re still learning each other as a team,” Ogden said. “As our team just gets more and more comfortable in knowing each other’s games, we’ll get better in those situations.”
Junior guard Edric Dennis sat out with a foot injury that will continue to be evaluated, Ogden said. There was no time frame given as to when Dennis will return.
Saturday’s game marked the final nonconference home game for the Mavericks as they prepare for a five-game road trip before conference play starts.
Next up, UTA will take on the University of Missouri at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.
“They’re built on defense, toughness and rebounding,” Ogden said. “We look forward to getting on the plane as a unit, going up there and competing against Missouri.”