Sophomore forward Davion Sykes hits the layup during the Bobcats conference game against Southern Miss. Sykes finished the game with 12 points in Texas State’s 60-55 win over the Golden Eagles.
Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Bobcats win second straight game over Southern Miss
Texas State notched their second straight win on Saturday as the Bobcats defeated the Southern Miss Golden Eagles 60-55.
The Bobcats were led by junior forward Brandon Love, who finished the game with a team high 15 points and 14 rebounds as the Bobcats have now won consecutive games for the first time this season.
“It was something we definitely needed,” Love said. “We are trying to continue it.”
Coming off his first double-double performance, sophomore forward Davion Sykes finished the game with 12 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s good to build momentum right now,” Sykes said. “Especially when we have two more home games then hit the road. We have to stick to this momentum while we have it.”
The victory over Southern Miss was crucial for both Texas State and Head Coach Terrence Johnson, who improved their conference record to 3-8 overall and moved into 10th place in the Sun Belt standings.
“We are learning how to win,” Johnson said. “That is a process and that doesn’t mean that you completely figure it out, because you still have to fight through adversity and things of that nature. There are going to be times where some things may not go your way, but at the same time, there is growth in what we are doing. If you look at the turnovers, rebounds, guys playing with multiple fouls, 50/50 balls, there is growth in what we are doing. There are so many things I think that we are getting one day better at.”
The Bobcats found themselves trailing in the first half as Southern Miss jumped out to a 1710 lead.
But Texas State was able to battle back by going on a 9-2 run to tie the game up at 19-19 capped off by a thunderous fast break dunk by Sykes on the assist from Kaden Gumbs.
Despite Southern Miss taking the lead at 21-19, the Bobcats hit back with a 12-3 run to end the first half and take the lead into halftime up 31-24.
Texas State continued their furious pace in the second half as the Bobcats notched their largest lead of the game up 37-26 punctuated with a momentum shifting alley-oop pass and dunk from senior guard Dylan Dawson to Sykes The Bobcats held on to their lead for the majority of the second half but not before the Golden Eagles made a massive run.
With Texas State up 4436 with 12:14 remaining in the game, Southern Miss went on a 10-2 run to tie up at 46-46 all with 7:28 left in the second half.
A layup by Love broke the tiebreak to give the Bobcats the lead before sophomore guard Jordan Mason hit a critical jumper to extend the lead at 50-46.
The Golden Eagles failed to tie the game up or retake the lead, as Mason scored the final 10 out of 12 points for the Bobcats to give Texas State the win at 60-55.
“That is your prototypical Bobcat victory,” Johnson said. “If you have seen 50% of the games we played over my tenure, you have seen games like that. … But it’s about perseverance and character. I’ve sat up here talking about the identity of this team and trying to find out who we are. This is all part of the process. Not never trying to get too high or too low but we beat a good, well-coached, championship level team with a championship culture. Hats off to my guys for embracing everything that was difficult and coming out victorious.”
Johnson was especially proud of the work both Sykes and Love put in the game as their effort spurred the Bobcats to score 40 points in the paint while out rebounding Southern Miss 43-32.
“They play well with each other whether it’s offensively or defensively,” Johnson said. “They connect well on the court. We challenged those guys that we got to get the ball at its highest point and snatch it. We are a better team when we are rebounding the ball. We are one of the few teams in the country that had a plus rebound margin against Houston this year. We know that we are capable and now it’s time to make it our focus and understand how important it is to our success.”
But Johnson was most proud of the Bobcats defensive effort, who held Southern Miss to 16 made field goals and forcing 13 turnovers.
“That’s the part that makes me smile,” Johnson said. “That is the foundation of the program. I wasn’t necessarily the creator of it, but I was in charge of trying to maintain it. Just getting these guys bought in, embracing it and having success with it makes me feel good. I think we are becoming a more stingier defense, and a tougher and competitive group.”
Texas State is back home tomorrow night as the Bobcats host the conference leading App State Mountaineers.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m..
cmcwilliams @sanmarcosrecord.com Twitter: @ColtonBMc