Photo by Gerald Castillo
Pearson’s ‘never-know’ shot catapults Bobcats past Arkansas State
Nijal Pearson made his ‘never-know’ shot on Saturday.
Texas State’s junior guard raced up the court with precious seconds ticking away and threw up a 3-point heave from about 30 feet out.
It felt good coming off his hands and he hit his follow through motion. Pearson didn’t expect to make it but it banked off the glass and through at the halftime buzzer to tie the Bobcats’ game against Arkansas State at 32-32.
“First of all, I’ve never made that shot in my life,” Pearson said. “Actually, you know, in a game, first-time ever. But, I actually shoot, when I’m finished working out, I joke around and shoot half-court shots. That’s on some playing stuff. Coach (Terrence Johnson) always says ‘Make one just so, you know what I’m saying? You never know.’ So, I guess that was my never know.”
Bang! #TXST's Nijal Pearson with a buzzer-beating 3 to tie the game 32-32 at the half.
Bobcats play great D and then Pearson calls bank. pic.twitter.com/otBxxJADdG
— Nick Castillo (@Nick_Castillo74) January 19, 2019
Pearson’s heave came in the midst of a 10-0 run to tie the game. When Texas State came out of the intermission, the Bobcats scored the half’s first 20 points to help secure a 77-64 win over the Red Wolves in front of the largest crowd of the season (4,136) at Strahan Arena.
“It was a good victory for us tonight,” head coach Danny Kaspar said. “I thought the most important aspect, or the turning point of the game was the last four or five minutes of the (first) half and we were down 28-20. We had to do something or otherwise we were going to be in a too deep a hole. And, we hit some big shots and none bigger than Nijal’s half-court, or whatever, heave that got us in there.”
Texas State (16-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) got off to a solid start against Arkansas State (8-11, 2-4), jumping up to a 14-9 lead.
But the Bobcats went cold during a three-minute stretch and the Red Wolves pounced. Arkansas State went on a 12-2 run to go on top 32-22.
Texas State, however, didn’t cave and answered with 10 straight points — capped off by Pearson’s buzzer beater.
“It was my first time ever doing it so of course I was like ‘Wow, let’s go’” Pearson said. “I mean, we were fixing to turn it up. Regardless, if I made that shot or didn’t, I knew our energy was fixing to change. We were fixing to come out of halftime and take it up a notch. But that shot was just like a catapult.”
The Bobcats came out fiery from the break. Texas State went on a 20-0 run to start the second half, which shocked Kaspar.
“Then we scored the first six points, I think first six points of the second half, maybe seven,” Kaspar said before being informed that his team scored the first 20 points of the half during Saturday’s post-game press conference.
“We did the first what? We scored the first 20? I didn’t watch the same game y’all did. So, I didn’t realize. But they turned it on.”
Arkansas State didn’t lay down, though. The Red Wolves knocked down multiple 3-pointers and cut the deficit to single digits. But the hole was too big and Texas State secured its fourth straight win.
“I just think that this team is playing some of the best basketball in (Texas State’s) Division I era,” Kaspar said. “I know they had some great teams during the NAIA years. But the Division I era this is about as good as anybody’s been playing since the Jeff Foster days, Donte Mathis days.”
Pearson led the Bobcats with his first double-double of the season, which included 29 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Tre Nottingham added 13 points and senior forward Alex Peacock had 10 points.
Texas State exits Saturday tied for first place in the Sun Belt after Georgia State lost to Troy, 77-75. The Bobcats travel to Atlanta to take on the Panthers (14-5, 5-1) on Thursday at 6 p.m.
While Texas State’s next game will put the winner in sole possession of first place, the Bobcats don’t plan to change their mindset.
“We just got to win one game at a time and figure out a way to win that game because if we continue to do that we can win the conference,” Pearson said. “But if you get ahead of yourself and starting thinking ‘Oh, so and so lost too and how other people are playing,’ you can’t do that. You know, just one game at a time. Focus on who we see first, who we’re playing against, beat them then move to the next game.”