Texas State defeats ULM, extends winning streak

Photo by Gerald Castillo

Texas State Men's Basketball

Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar admits his team has sometimes been luckier than good during the Bobcats six-game winning streak — The first six-game winning streak since the 2003-2004 season.

But Texas State keeps winning. The Bobcats pulled out their sixth-straight victory with a 55-52 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday in front of 2,203 fans at Strahan Coliseum. With the victory, the Bobcats have won their six Sun Belt games by 20 combined points.

“We seem to find a way to get it done,” Kaspar said. “What did they say? This is our sixth conference win by 20 points, so that’s what 3.3 points a game that’s an average. Geez, I need hazard pay. That’s a little bit draining emotionally speaking and physically.”

Kaspar attributes the winning streak on his team’s ability to keep turnovers low, and good defense. The Bobcats (13-7, 6-1 Sun Belt) used two strong offensive performances from junior guard Tre Nottingham and sophomore guard Nijal Pearson to push them past the Warhawks (7-10, 1-5).

Pearson led Texas State with 17 points and seven rebounds. Nottingham, who made his third start at point guard since sophomore Marlin Davis suffered a season ending ACL injury, earned his third straight double-digit scoring performance with 16 points. Nottingham said his strong outings have come from the help of Davis.

“Marlin, again, he’s been giving me pointers in practice and on the defensive end on how to stop the penetration and stuff,” Nottingham said. “But it’s more of a mental mindset being ready to go. Being ready to get thrown in the fire. Being ready to help the team. Being ready to get the ‘W.’ Being ready to strap on and lockdown on defense that’s the main thing. I just want to help my team win and that’s what we did tonight.”

Meanwhile, Pearson credited Thursday’s win on the Bobcats’ toughness.

“I feel like we played together,” Pearson said. “I feel like we survived the push, again. But we just keep fighting. I talked about that earlier and we just keep fighting. I’m proud of us for keep on fighting.”

ULM’s push came midway through the second half with Texas State holding onto a 46-32 lead. The Warhawks cut the Bobcat advantage down to 50-48 behind a shooting frenzy from ULM freshman guard Michael Ertel, who finished with 18 points. But the Warhawks wouldn’t get any closer. Texas State closed out the game with back-to-back lay-ups from senior forward Immanuel King and junior forward Alex Peacock.

“I feel fortunate to get out with this win here,” Kaspar said. “We really came out, I don’t know, what’s the word — lackadaisical, reserved. I’m not sure what word I need to use, the way we came out not aggressive enough. Not what we’ve seen, particularly last weekend (against Arkansas State and Little Rock). Don’t get me wrong, ULM’s coach (Keith Richard) is an excellent coach and there are some good players on that team, they’re just not very deep. But it looked like we woke up in the second half and then Ertle kid comes alive and led them in scoring with 18 but it looked like he got them all in five minutes.”

With its sixth win in a row secured, Texas State faces the daunting task of playing Louisiana (16-3, 6-0), which leads the Sun Belt in scoring offense, scoring margin, free-throw percentage, field-goal percentage, rebounding offense, rebounding margin, assists, steals, assist-to-turnover ratio and offensive-rebounding percentage.

Pearson, however, said he’s excited to take on the Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Strahan Coliseum.

“Louisiana is tough,” Pearson said. “They can score, rebound. They can guard. So, I’m excited by it. I live for games like that. I mean, there’s going to be some men on the court. I want to be one of them. My teammates, I know they want to be one of them. I wish Saturday was right now. I’m ready for it.”

San Marcos Daily Record

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