Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats rally to defeat Arkansas State, claim 20th win of season
Texas State rallied from down 16 points in the first half to defeat Arkansas State, 84-74, inside First National Bank Arena in Jonesboro, Ark.
Thursday’s win marked the Bobcats' 20th victory of the season, which is the first time they’ve recorded 20 wins during the regular season since the 1993-94 campaign.
But Arkansas State (10-15, 4-8 Sun Belt) made Texas State (20-5, 9-3) work for the win. After the Bobcats took an early 4-3 lead, the Red Wolves went on a 22-5 run to go on top 25-9.
Texas State slowly whittled down the deficit. With just over a minute remaining in the first half, senior forward Alex Peacock got the Bobcats to within 40-37 with a second-chance layup. Junior guard Nijal Pearson followed with a jumper at the free throw line to cut the Red Wolves’ advantage to 40-39.
On the final possession of the first half, Peacock was fouled and went to the charity stripe. He split a pair of free throws to send the game into a 40-40 at the intermission.
Texas State came out strong in the second half. Redshirt freshman forward Alonzo Sule made back-to-back buckets to begin the period and gave the Bobcats a 44-40 lead.
The Bobcats began to pull away midway through the frame. A layup from junior guard Jaylen Shead pushed Texas State’s advantage out to 59-49.
But Arkansas State didn’t go away. The Red Wolves worked their way back into the game, getting as close as 64-61 off a 3-pointer from senior guard Ty Cockfield.
Pearson answered Cockfield’s 3 with one of his own. Pearson converted another shot from beyond the arc to push Texas State’s lead back to nine.
The Bobcats ended the game by going 8 of 8 from the free throw line in the final 52 seconds to secure the victory.
Pearson recorded a team-high 21 points and added four rebounds. Pearson became the fifth all-time scorer in program history after Thursday's performance. Sule secured a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards. Shead tallied 17 points, five assists and four rebounds.
Texas State controlled the boards, outrebounding Arkansas State, 44-35. The Bobcats shot 80 percent from the free-throw line on Thursday.
Cockfield led the Red Wolves with a game-high and career-high 39 points. Senior forward Tristin Walley notched 12 points and six rebounds.
Thursday’s win over Arkansas State propelled Texas State back into sole possession of first place in the conference after UT Arlington lost to Little Rock.
The Bobcats look to remain alone atop the Sun Belt when they travel to take on Little Rock on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Jack Stephens Center.