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Photo by Gerald Castillo

Bobcats edge out Eagles 72-68 at home in annual Kids Game

Texas State Women's Basketball
Thursday, February 27, 2020

Every practice and every game, you’ll find a stick of a yellow smiley face somewhere on Zenarae Antoine’s clothes.

It’s a visual reminder for Texas State’s players. No matter how tough the Texas State head coach gets on them, it’s coming from a place of love. 

“The smiley face is really for everyone to be able to breathe and relax and smile,” Antoine said. “It’s really about smiling. So (assistant) coach Paige (Love) and I kind of got it started and so we make sure we wear it in practice and we wear it in all our games. And so anytime I might look like want to tear (a player) up or get after her, I’ll just smile. Or when (sophomore guard) Kennedy (Taylor is) really upset, you know, with herself or a teammate, she sees a smile, she just smiles.”

The Bobcats (11-15, 4-11 Sun Belt) focused in on the smile during halftime of Thursday’s home game against Georgia Southern (9-18, 6-10). The Eagles grabbed 11 offensive rebounds in the first two quarters, leading to 10 second-chance points for the visitors. It was one of the chief reasons Texas State found itself trailing 43-38 at the break.

Antoine typically discusses adjustments with her assistants before talking to her players at halftime. But she wasted no time chewing her team out on Thursday. The maroon and gold had to rebound better.

Things got even tougher down the stretch. The hosts gave up an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter and trailed by two with 2:30 on the clock.

But in the end, Texas State was all smiles, closing the game out with six unanswered points and claiming a 72-66 win.

“(We were) just being aggressive,” Taylors said. “George Southern was crashing really hard in the first half. We just said that we need to meet them early and make sure we go get the 50/50s, just so we could get out and run in (transition).”

The Bobcats outrebounded the Eagles 14-10 in the third quarter. Without the extra opportunities, the visitors’ offense sputtered, shooting just 15.4 percent from the field during the period. The hosts took advantage, out scoring their opponent 19-6 to take a 57-49 lead heading into the fourth.

“I mean, we just really stepped up our defense,” senior guard Brooke Holle said. “We knew that we wanted to push in transition this game, get back to, you know, being a good transition offense team. And in order to do that, we had to get stops on defense. So we really just stepped up our defense in the third quarter we were able to run and get some good fastbreak looks.”

Georgia Southern adjusted to start the fourth, erasing Texas State’s lead by the 5:32 mark and holding a 68-66 leading with 2:30 remaining.

Holle was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer at the top of the key and hit all three free throws to jump back in front. The maroon and gold never let the lead go.

Both teams held each other scoreless for the next two minutes until sophomore forward Da’Nasia Hood hit a pair of foul shots with 21.1 seconds on the clock. The visitors called timeout, but Hood picked off a pass on the next play and pitched the ball to junior forward Jayla Johnson, who Georgia Southern intentionally fouled. Johnson missed her first free throw, but made the second, ceiling the 72-68 win.

Holle said the team’s poise late in the game was noticeably better than earlier in the year.

“In the preseason, we’ve had a lot of close games at home. And in practice, like, we’ve had all the scenarios: we’re up, we’re down we’re tied, there’s 20 seconds left, there’s two minutes left,” Holle said. “So like, we’ve really just been able to practice all the different situations. So when we get to a game, we’re not frantic and like, ‘Oh what do we need to do?’ We know what questions to ask, we know what we’re looking for, and we can just stay calm and cool.”

Hood led the team with 16 points and 11 rebounds, her third double-double of the season. Taylor posted 13 points and eight assists. Holle tied her for second on the team with 13 points.

Thursday’s contest was the team’s annual Kids Game, in which San Marcos CISD elementary and middle school students are bussed in to watch the game. The event resulted in an attendance of 3,365, the third-largest crowd at Strahan Arena in the program’s history.

Texas State will play in its final home game on Saturday, hosting Georgia State (8-18, 5-10) at 2 p.m.

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666