With 3-pointers and personal fouls, the Rangers’ deep bench allows them to power through overtime.
By William A. Peters
This college’s men’s basketball team defeated the University of the Incarnate Word 85-78 in a nail-biter of a first game that went into overtime Wednesday night.
The Cardinals won the tipoff and took the first basket in UIW’s Wellness Center. The Rangers countered with a volley of 3-point shots in the first minutes to pull ahead and maintain a lead.
Kinesiology freshmen Gabriel Hilderbrand started the 3-point barrage right out of the gate, giving the Rangers an early lead 5-4.
Tensions were high as the Cardinals managed to keep the game competitive thanks to multiple fouls by the Rangers.
Timeout was called with 9:34 on the clock, and coach Louis Martinez asked his players to find their man. He said they “need to stay awake,” urging them to react faster and maintain good man-to-man coverage.
Nearing the end of the first half, the Rangers led 36-35 with less than a minute to play. Real estate sophomore Ricky Myers broke free and drove the ball through the paint for 2 points with only one man able to cover him. The Cardinals reciprocated by scoring immediately, leaving the Rangers with a 1-point lead, 38-37, at the end of the first half.
Martinez said going into the second half the Rangers needed to “play better defense.” The Cardinals weren’t making many of their shots, but they were free to take them and they were scoring free attempts with fouls.
The Rangers started strong the first half of the game with seven 3-pointers allowing them to keep up with the Cardinals, who stayed in the game because of the excessive fouling against them.
The Cardinals started the second half strong, scoring two baskets back-to-back, pulling ahead 41-38 and maintaining that lead for a majority of the second half.
The Rangers were plagued by personal fouls resulting in free throws for the Cardinals, who capitalized on free shots by making five of eight taken in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
With 7:11 left on the clock, the Rangers battled back from their deficit to within 1 point of tying the score, with Myers throwing the ball in the hoop from the baseline. With 6:09 on the clock, kinesiology freshman Adam Villanueva scored a 3-point shot to pull ahead 65-63. The lead didn’t last long: Nine seconds later the Rangers fouled and the score was tied once again.
At 3:54 on the clock, timeout was called. Martinez urged his players to keep up the pressure, reminding them they can’t keep having bad turnovers.
The Cardinals scored two more baskets before engineering freshmen Fabian Chavarria sunk a 3-pointer to tie the score 71-71 with less than two minutes left to play.
Continuing to rally, the Cardinals scored again, but kinesiology freshmen Lorenzo Vela countered by charging into the paint to again tie 73-73 with 28 seconds left.
The second half ended in a tie 73-73, bringing the first game of the season into overtime. The Cardinals took possession of the ball in overtime and scored a fast 2 points.
Villanueva scored quickly as well to bring the game to a tie. With two minutes left to play, Villanueva sunk a 3-pointer from 50 feet away that pushed the Rangers ahead 78-75 and created the momentum that carried them to victory. Villanueva was the top scorer for the Rangers with 18 points.
With the momentum on his side, Hilderbrand nailed a layup, then gained possession of the ball again to make a quick pass to Chavarria, who was wide open in the paint, resulting in another basket, increasing the Rangers’ lead by 8 points with one minute left.
The Cardinals tried to come back, sinking a shot for 3 points in the last 30 seconds, but the deficit was too much and there wasn’t enough time left. After the game Martinez said, “We have a lot to work on. … It’s our first game, so I mean, practicing is different. You go to practice and see the same guys every time. Once you get out here and see something different other than what your team is doing, you have to try to adjust.”
Martinez gave credit to his team’s stamina and win in overtime.
“We have a deep bench so we are able to run and stay fresh,” he said.
Martinez said, “You don’t know what to expect” in the season’s first game, but now that it is done, “we can go back and work on things.”
The Rangers gave up 14 total points because of personal fouls, racking up over 20 through the course of the game.
The team plays Texas A&M-San Antonio at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Candler Physical Education Center.