State races past Troy in back-and-forth affair

Photo by Gerald Castillo

Texas State Women's Basketball

Texas State (16-11, 11-5 in the Sun Belt) didn’t plan to beat Troy (18-9, 11-5 in the Sun Belt), at its own game, but that’s how Saturday afternoon played out.

Senior Erin Peoples couldn’t imagine a better way to close out her final regular season game inside Strahan Coliseum than the Bobcats’ 74-72 win over Troy that moved the Bobcats into prime position for a top-four seed in the Sun Belt Tournament.

With under 1:30 to play, Troy cut Texas State’s deficit to three. Peoples ripped the ball away from ArJae’ Saunders and released an outlet pass to junior Taeler Deer who was fouled in transition. It was Peoples’ fourth steal and quelled a Trojan offense that was matching the Bobcats basket-for-basket as the game wound down.

“(Peoples) has a dream, not just for herself, but for Texas State women’s basketball,” head coach Zenarae Antoine said. “This dream is continuously going on and you want to see that hard work and dedication in life payoff for her. Erin could care less what her stat-line looks like, she’s more excited that this team found a way to sweep to finish out (at home).”

After Ericka May missed both of her free throw attempts with four seconds remaining, Claresa Banks (eight points) had a chance to set up the final shot, but stumbled when she crossed over into Texas State’s half of the court as time expired.

Deer finished with a game-high 20 points and was backed by junior Kaitlin Walla’s season-high 18 points including three 3-pointers.

Deer only made one field goal in the second half, but used Troy’s defensive aggression to her advantage and took to the lane getting to the free throw line eight times.

“We were struggling scoring and I had to be aggressive and get to the foul line,” Deer said. “Troy really pressured me on defense so I couldn’t get a good shot enough. I know I can take anybody to hole the so I was just being aggressive for my team.”

The first half played out about as well as Texas State could’ve hoped. The Trojans couldn’t get in a consistent offensive groove shooting 17.6 percent from the floor and the Bobcats, led by Deer’s 13 points defended and outran the top offense in the conference with eight fast break points to Troy’s zero.

“We had to slow them down, get back in transition and pack the paint,” Peoples said. “Protect the paint, that was our goal just to limit their transition points and I think we did a really good job of that, especially in the first half.”

Texas State took a 35-25 lead into the half and outscored the Trojans in transition 8-0.

“The goal was not to play at the track race,” Antoine said. “I heard some fans say, ‘Track race coach, let’s go’. No, no, no that’s not what we do. We want to get transition looks for sure, so we’ll go hard and go fast, but if we don’t, it’s more important to me that we don’t take quick shots against this team. That puts a lot of stress on our defense.”

The Bobcats also held Troy, the top offensive rebounding team in the country, to four boards in the second half, which kept the Trojans under their season-average of 20 per game (14).

Texas State travels to Louisiana for its final regular season games against Louisiana (Thursday at 5 p.m.) and UL Monroe (Saturday at noon). The Sun Belt Tournament begins March 7.

San Marcos Daily Record

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