EDINBURG, Texas | Ivy Smith Jr.’s layup attempt at the buzzer did everything but fall as the Grambling State University men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker, 74-73, to the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley during the opening round of the collegeinsider.com tournament on Wednesday night at the UTRGV Fieldhouse.
Grambling State concludes the season 17-17 and fell just short to earning back-to-back winning seasons in 15 years. UTRGV improves to 20-16 and moves on to the second round of the tournament.
Dallas Polk-Hilliard led four Tiger players in double figures with 22 points, on 9-of-11 shooting. Also, he added four rebounds and one block. Prince Moss came off the bench and provided 16 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Axel Mpoyo chipped in 12 points, on 6-of-9 shooting, along with one steal and one board. Ivy Smith, Jr. posted a double-double of 13 assists (tied a career high) and 11 points, with three rebounds and one steal.
Tyson Smith paced five Vaquero players in double figures with 19 points, seven assists, two boards and one block. Lesley Varner II and Javon Levi added 14 points each, while Jordan Jackson and Terry Winn III recorded 10 points apiece.
How It Happened
UTRGV jumped out to a 16-8 advantage after a Lesley Varner three-point play with 14:29 left, but Grambling State responded with a 18-7 run capped by a Dallas Polk-Hilliard 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 26-23 lead with 9:15 remaining in the opening half.
The Vaqueros, who shot 56.7 percent from the floor in the first half, used a 10-0 run over the next six minutes to take a 36-30 lead with 3:50 left. The Tigers, who were 18-of-29 (62.1 percent) shooting, closed the half strong and cut the margin to 42-41 at the break.
UTRGV grabbed a 56-52 lead after a trey by Tyson Smith with 14:38 left, but a layup by Devante Jackson cut the deficit to 56-54 with 14:12 remaining.
The Tigers broke open a close game with a 10-3 run to take a 70-63 advantage with a little under six minutes remaining. However, the Vaqueros battled back and tied the game at 70 after a layup by Terry Winn with 3:07 left.
A 3-pointer by Polk-Hilliard gave Grambling State a 73-70 lead, but UTRGV cut the margin to 73-72 with a putback bucket by Winn with 57 seconds left.
In the final 57 seconds, Ivy Smith, Jr.’s layup was banged in and out and the Vaqueros got the rebound and called timeout with 20 seconds remaining. After the timeout, Winn drove the lane and made contact with Jackson, who fouled out. Winn sank a pair to grab the 74-73 lead with nine seconds remaining. Smith got the ball and went end to end as his layup did everything but fall as the Tigers suffered the postseason loss.
Inside the Numbers
> Grambling State shot 56.4 percent (31-of-55) from the floor and 80.0 percent (4-of-5) from the charity stripe
> UTRGV was 27-of-59 (45.8 percent) from the field and 11-of-16 (68.8 percent) from the foul line
> GSU registered 32 rebounds, including 29 on the defensive glass
> UTRGV pulled down 28 rebounds, with 21 coming on the defensive end
> The Tigers finished with 30 points in the paint, 21 bench points, 14 points off eight UTRGV turnovers, six second-chance points and two fastbreak points
> The Vaqueros registered 28 points in the paint, 16 points off 15 GSU turnovers, nine second-chance points, seven bench points and four fastbreak points
News & Notes
> Grambling State made its first NCAA Division I postseason tournament since 1980 (NIT vs. Ole Miss)
> Grambling State leads the conference in nine different categories
> Dallas Polk-Hilliard paces the Tigers with seven double-doubles
> Ivy Smith, Jr. leads the conference in assists per game, free-throws made and total assists
> Ivy Smith, Jr. surpassed the 1,000-point plateau against Mississippi Valley State (3/4/19)
> Ivy Smith, Jr. was named to the All-SWAC Second Team on Tuesday
> Grambling State has three seniors – Axel Mpoyo, Zavier Peart and Nigel Ribeiro
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