Bobcats achieve highest win total since 1999 on senior night

Photo by Gerald Castillo

Men's College Basketball

Over 2,500 fans inside Strahan Coliseum exorcised nearly 20 years of frustration Monday night.

Texas State (17-11, 10-6 in the Sun Belt) cruised to a 90-64 win over South Alabama (13-16, 6-10 in the Sun Belt) on senior night and with it, notched the program’s highest season win total since the 1998-99 season and guaranteed a winning overall record.

Senior forward Kavin Gilder-Tilbury wanted to go out in his final game at Strahan with a bang. The team’s only four-year player endured the lowest of lows during Texas State’s first season under head coach Danny Kaspar in 2013 going 8-23 and matched a career-high 26 points and added 11 rebounds against the Jaguars for his third double-double of the season.

“Me and Kaspar have been through a lot,” Gilder-Tilbury said. “We did our best to try and change this program around and I felt like, for the most part, we accomplished that and I hope they continue to accomplish that as the years go on.”

The shot that gave him 26 points has become a trademark for the Houston native in recent weeks. Gilder-Tilbury rose over South Alabama’s Nick Stover at the top of the key, drilled a 3-pointer and drew the foul for the 4-point play.

“My shot was feeling pretty good throughout the whole game so I was definitely confident with my jumper so I took the shot,” Gilder-Tilbury said. “I made it and I told my team to keep finding me. I wanted to go out with a bang.”

After honoring the team’s four seniors prior to tipoff (Gilder-Tilbury, Maljhum McCrea, Bobby Conley and Ojai Black) Texas State ripped off a 10-0 run to start and finished the night shooting a blistering 58.6 percent from the floor. The Bobcats headed into the locker room up 18 and South Alabama only cut the lead to as low as 10 at the 15-minute mark of the second half.

Kaspar sensed in the locker room that his players were locked in for the special occasion.

“I just think we witnessed some pretty good basketball out there, defensively, offensively and these seniors are so special to me, I’ve got to admit particularly Kavin.” Kaspar said. “From where we started to where we are and I’m not saying we’re having a Little Rock season and what they had last year, but guys, we had only five guys come back (this year).”

Freshman Nedeljko Prijovic flushed home a fast break dunk in the winding seconds with the game well in hand and junior Deris Duncan followed suit just seconds later. The Bobcat bench mobbed the Indiana native with 0.2 still left on the clock drawing a technical foul, but consumed in the euphoria, the team couldn’t have cared less – except for Kaspar.

“I was a little upset with the players, but they said, ‘Coach we thought the game was over’,” Kaspar said.

Black finished with 14 points and five assists. Conley added six more assists to the mix. Black admitted to just wanting the day to be over with. After hearing his roommate, Gilder-Tilbury’s name called during the pregame ceremony, he let his own emotions fly.

“The game just started and I settled in,” Black said. “I just played ball and played for my teammates. They’re the ones that been with me all year, day in day out, Christmases, Thanksgivings. It was just playing with my teammates and laying it all out there.”

The pageantry of senior night behind them, Texas State heads off for its final road trip of the season and plays UL Lafayette Thursday night at 7:15 p.m. before traveling to play UL Monroe in the regular season finale Saturday at 2 p.m. Texas State still has an opportunity to capture a top-four seed in the Sun Belt Tournament pending wins against both Louisiana teams and the results of Georgia Southern, Georgia State and Arkansas State’s season finales.

San Marcos Daily Record

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