Men’s team defeats UIW 83-70 to claim first victory of the season.
By Michael Peters
Business communication sophomore Andrew Butler sped down the court and soared above the Incarnate Word Cardinals’ defense for an electrifying dunk, getting the home crowd roaring and on its feet.
The dunk gave Butler two of his team-leading 24 points during the Rangers 83-70 victory over the Cardinals Wednesday in Gym 1 of Candler Physical Education Center.
Butler’s early dunk set the tone for the Rangers’ first victory of the season, bringing their record to 1-3.
What a difference a couple of weeks can make as Butler was the epitome of frustration during the Rangers’ 87-68 loss to the Northwest Vista Wildcats in their home opener Oct. 23.
“I feel a lot better,” said Matt Ramirez, coach of this college’s men’s basketball team. “This was the first time this season we completed the game for an entire game.”
Particularly early in the first half, the Rangers forced the Cardinals into several turnovers that led to easy transition opportunities.
“The defense stepped up and forced turnovers,” Ramirez said.
Despite taking the loss, the standout performer of the game was engineering management senior Jon McMillan of the Cardinals.
McMillan was relentless as he constantly worked hard to pull down rebounds on his way to scoring 25 points in a losing effort for the Cardinals.
Civil engineering sophomore Leo Dupre helped Butler lead the Rangers’ offensive attack by contributing 16 points. Nine players scored for the Rangers while four hit double figures. Fire science sophomore Bobby Lusk added 11 points, and biology freshman Rey Esquivel contributed 10 points to the Rangers’ victory.
The Rangers led by as many as 16 points in the first half before a string of turnovers allowed the Cardinals to close the gap to 7 by the end of the first half at 36-29.
More hard work from McMillan and timely buckets from sports management freshman Dean Leija, son of former WBC super-featherweight boxing champion Jesse James Leija, kept the Cardinals close in the second half before the Rangers were able to extend the lead to as many as 20 points late.
While the Rangers put in a good performance overall, this season’s trend of poor free-throw shooting continued as they shot 60 percent from the stripe going 11-18 for the game.
The Rangers have a bye next week while the Cardinals have a home game versus the Southwest Texas Junior College Cowboys at 8 p.m. Wednesday at McDermott Center.