Last second tip-in lifts UTRGV to sweep of defending WAC champs

EDINBURG – Senior McAllen-native Moe McDonald scored in the final second to propel The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) men's basketball team to a 68-66 victory and complete the season sweep of defending Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Champion CSU Bakersfield on Saturday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.

This is the first time UTRGV (14-12, 5-4 WAC) has swept that season’s defending WAC Champions since joining the WAC in 2013-14. This is also the first time UTRGV has swept CSU Bakersfield (10-15, 3-7 WAC) in a two-game series since 2007-08.

UTRGV now has a program-record tying five WAC wins, a feat last accomplished in 2013-14, UTRGV’s first season in the WAC. UTRGV last won more conference games with six Sun Belt Conference victories in 1995-96.

Senior Nick Dixon and sophomore Lesley Varner Jr. led UTRGV with 14 points each. Freshman Javon Levi scored a career-high 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting, including a three-pointer, with four assists and a career-high four steals.

Damiyne Durham led CSU Bakersfield with 26 points and five rebounds. Jarkel Joiner scored 12 points with six rebounds. Rickey Holden scored 10 points.

UTRGV led 60-51 with 4:24 remaining when Durham used three three-pointers to fuel a 15-6 run to tie the game at 66 with 22 seconds left.

Dixon brought the ball down the court and launched a three from the left wing. McDonald followed the shot, and when the ball bounced off the rim, McDonald tipped it in to give UTRGV the lead with 0.7 seconds remaining. Brent Wrapp’s full court heave after the buzzer bounced off the back iron.

UTRGV is now one game behind Utah Valley (6-3) and Seattle U (6-3) for second place and half a game behind Grand Canyon (6-4) for fourth.

CSU Bakersfield led 10-7 after seven and a half minutes before Varner hit a jumper, a layup and a three to power a 12-2 run and give UTRGV a 19-12 lead.

UTRGV still led by seven at 21-14 after a Dixon jumper with 5:53 remaining in the half, but CSU Bakersfield closed the half on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 26.

CSU Bakersfield regained the lead early in the second half when a Durham three made the score 31-28.

Then, with CSU Bakersfield up 33-31, Levi made a layup and a three-pointer and then Varner hit a free throw to put UTRGV up four.

The game stayed close until midway through the half, when UTRGV went on a 13-6 run to go up 60-51.

UTRGV is back in action on Thursday at 9 p.m. at Seattle U.

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