College Basketball: Vandals fend off Bobcat men
Texas State senior forward Matt Staff wasn’t going to let his team go down without a fight in the final home game of the season. It also happened to be the last time Staff would step on the court at Strahan Coliseum in a collegiate game.
Staff, who joined the Bobcats after transferring from New Mexico four years ago, carried his team within one basket of a tie — or the lead — several times in the second half of Saturday’s game against Idaho. The Vandals, however, found several players to shoulder the load; while Texas State only had the 6-foot-10 forward.
Idaho, led by three players with 20 or more points, handed the Bobcats a 90-81 loss and took firm control of sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference.
“Matt did enough to neutralize his matchup, but they won a lot of other matchups,” Texas State head coach Doug Davalos said. “It was disappointing, because Matt played well and we tried to get him some rest whenever we could.
“We let three guys get 20 points. Unless you’re in the NBA, you’re not going to win a game if you let three guys get 20 points. Our effort was good and we played hard, but I don’t think we played tough enough.”
Staff drew a tough assignment against the Vandals, as he took on All-WAC forward Kyle Barone. Entering Saturday’s game, Barone was the only player in the WAC to average a double-double and the Bobcats saw first-hand what he could do when he scored 27 and grabbed 17 rebounds in the first meeting back on Jan. 24.
Texas State tried its best to limit Barone’s productivity throughout the game. Davalos sent double teams at Barone throughout the first half and Staff found a home outside the perimeter when Barone and Idaho used its man-to-man defense.
Even though Barone had 15 points and seven rebounds at halftime, the Bobcats only trailed the Vandals by two. Staff countered with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting and four of his teammates had six or more points.
Texas State didn’t have as much luck in the second half, despite Barone drawing four quick fouls. Idaho switched to a 3-2 zone to protect Barone and the Bobcats went cold from the perimeter, making just five of its 17 three-point attempts.
There were two moments in the second half in which Texas State threatened to take control of the game: leading 42-41 with 18:58 remaining and then cutting the Vandals’ 15-point lead to four. Both times, Idaho broke the Bobcats with extended runs (20-4 and 10-0).
“I wasn’t as disappointed today as I’ve been with some of these home games,” Davalos said. “I don’t think we came out and were bad. Idaho was really good today. They were better than us.”
Texas State finished the season 4-10 at home with two road games remaining at San Jose State and Utah State.