Photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats stumble against South Alabama, fall into first-place tie
Texas State’s hopes of claiming its first outright Sun Belt championship came crashing down Saturday night.
The Bobcats suffered their most disappointing loss of the season against South Alabama. Texas State lost sole possession of first place in the conference with a 77-63 loss to the Jaguars inside the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Ala.
"I am disappointed in how we performed with so much on the line," Kaspar said.. "The guys know what is at stake. We have to be mature about what is on the line and follow our system. A system that has got us to a 12-5 conference record which means we have to defend the basketball.
“We did not look like the Texas State team that won 23 games. This was our most disappointing defeat of the year and with so much at stake, I am very frustrated with our effort and the outcome of the game."
Texas State (23-7, 12-5 Sun Belt) and South Alabama (14-15, 7-9) traded the lead 13 times in the first half.
The Bobcats grabbed a late, 31-28, advantage in the opening period but the Jaguars closed the frame on a 7-0 run to go on top 35-31 at the half.
South Alabama came out of the intermission on fire. The Jaguars put the game away with a 14-0 run early in the second half to secure a 52-33 advantage.
Texas State cut the deficit to 73-63 with 1:13 left in the contest but it was too late and South Alabama secured the upset victory.
"I don't understand why we didn't come out with the fire in our belly that I expected them to have," Kaspar said. "We played a decent first half, but our defense was not there today. South Alabama played harder than we did."
South Alabama put together a red-hot shooting night on Saturday. The Jaguars converted 63 percent of their shots and sank 10 of its 17 3-point attempts. Junior forward Josh Ajayi paced South Alabama with 20 points. Senior guard Rodrick Sikes added 18 points with 15 coming from beyond the arc.
Texas State senior forward Alex Peacock recorded a season-high 20 points and brought down six rebounds. Senior guard Tre Nottingham added 16 points and junior guard Jaylen Shead recorded 10 points and seven assists.
Saturday’s loss drops the Bobcats into a three-way tie for first place with Georgia State and Georgia Southern.
Texas State’s conference title hopes will come down to the season finale against UT Arlington on Saturday at 2 p.m. With a win, the Bobcats will claim a co-championship with the winner of Saturday’s Georgia Southern-Georgia State game. A loss to the Mavericks would knock Texas State down to fourth place in the Sun Belt.