RIO GRANDE VALLEY – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) Vaqueros men’s basketball team closed the game on a 21-9 run to beat the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks 91-79 on Tuesday at Bert Ogden Arena.
The game was tied at 70 with 4:48 remaining. Eight seconds later, senior Justin Johnson hit a pair of free throws and Graduate student Dima Zdor made a layup to give the Vaqueros (4-2) the lead for the rest of the game.
The Lumberjacks (2-5) got as close as 76-74 before a layup by junior Ahren Freemana 3-pointer by a sophomore Will Johnstona pair of Johnson free throws, and a Zdor 3-point play pushed the game out of reach.
Johnson led the Vaqueros with 26 points. Johnston scored a career-high 20 points with four rebounds and five assists. Freeman scored a career-high tying 19 points with eight rebounds, a career-high tying five assists and two steals. Sophomore Sherman Brashear finished with 11 points.
Nik Mains led the Lumberjacks with 22 points and six rebounds. Liam Lloyd scored 12 points with four assists. Jalen Cone scored 14 points with five assists and two steals. Xavier Fuller scored 11 points with four rebounds and four assists.
The Lumberjacks jumped out to an 11-5 lead over the opening two and a half minutes. Freeman bookended an 8-0 run with layups to put the Vaqueros up 13-11 two and a half minutes later.
The Vaqueros led 17-16 on a putback by the sophomore John Shanu IIbut the Lumberjacks responded with a 13-2 run to go up 29-19.
The Vaqueros scored the next 10 points, tying the game at 29 on a pair of Johnson free throws at the 5:02 mark.
The Lumberjacks scored the next six points to take the lead. The Vaqueros got as close as two at 35-33 on a pair of free throws by freshman Adante’ Holiman and 37-35 on a pair of Brashear free throws before the Lumberjacks hit the final two baskets of the half to go up 41-35.
The Lumberjacks pushed their lead to 46-39 early in the second half, but the Vaqueros answered with a 10-2 run, capped by a Zdor dunk, to take a 49-48 lead.
The game stayed within two points until Johnson hit a layup and a 3 to give the Vaqueros a 66-62 advantage with 7:09 remaining.
The Lumberjacks scored eight of the next 12 points to tie the game at 70.
UTRGV visits No. 4 Texas on Saturday at 3 pm at Gregory Gym in a game that will be televised nationally on the Longhorn Network.
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