Photo by Lance Winter
Shead, Bobcats outlast Appalachian State to snap losing streak
Jaylen Shead made his living Thursday night driving to the hoop and finishing off the glass.
The junior guard didn’t lead Texas State in scoring but he made his presence felt with 15 points, four assists and four steals to help the Bobcats defeat Appalachian State, 74-71.
“A lot of times a lot of people back up off of me because, not saying I can’t shoot, but that’s not what I prefer to do,” Shead said. “I’d rather get to the basket. And me and the coaches have just been working on finding the right angles to go downhill and go and do what I do best.”
Head coach Danny Kaspar had high praise for the Pflugerville native after his strong performance against the Mountaineers. Kaspar said Shead, who sat out last season after transferring to Texas State from California Poly, should be in strong consideration for Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year.
“He’s very athletic,” Kaspar said. “Other than the UTA game, I mean, he’s been like what you saw tonight. He’s been very good on defense. I think he’ll tell you he wishes he could have that UTA experience back. But he’s very competitive. He too is a very intelligent person and player. He’s been a great deal to us.”
Shead and the Bobcats outlasted Appalachian State in front of a lively crowd of 4,571 inside Strahan Arena — The second-largest crowd of the season and sixth biggest in school history.
Appalachian State (8-15, 3-7 Sun Belt) got off to a quick start behind a hot shooting streak from senior guard Ronshad Shabazz, who made three quick 3-pointer to give the Mountaineers a 9-4 lead.
But Texas State (18-5, 7-3) settled in and eventually grabbed a 13-11 lead after a jumper from senior forward Alex Peacock. The Bobcats built a lead as large as seven in the first half.
“I feel like when we first came out, Shabazz got hot and we just had to buckle down,” Shead said. “I mean, we go over scouting reports all week and stuff. I felt like we just had to buckle down and understand who was guarding who and find the matchups and find the right defensive gameplan to slow them down.”
App State responded, however, regaining the lead at 35-34. Both teams traded baskets at the end of the opening period and took a 38-38 tie into halftime.
The Bobcats came out sluggish to start the second half and the Mountaineers took advantage of it by building a 46-40 advantage.
Texas State slowly whittled away at App State’s lead. The Bobcats eventually tied the game at 51-51 with a layup from senior guard Tre Nottingham. They secured a 57-56 advantage — their first lead of the half — off a 3-pointer from Nottingham.
But the Mountaineers didn’t back down and went back on top, 58-57, with a bucket from sophomore guard Justin Forrest. App State held control of the game for the next four minutes until a layup from Peacock thrust Texas State past the Mountaineers, 63-62.
The Bobcats wouldn’t relinquish the lead. App State, however, had a last-second opportunity to force overtime. But a buzzer-beating 3-point attempt from Forrest didn’t fall and Texas State held on for the 74-71 victory.
“I’m just so happy for (the team),” Kaspar said. “You know, I really am. I’m on them but I tell you I just want them to win so bad because they’ve worked so hard. But they can’t let it slip away with the missed free throw situation or a bad shot situation. They’ve got to grasp that defense. At times we’re playing great defense but from throwing it up to the end of the game, we still haven’t played defense like we did against Air Force (in the season opener).”
Alongside Shead’s 15 points, junior guard Nijal Pearson led the Bobcats with 19 points followed by Nottingham, who tallied 18 points. Redshirt freshman forward Alonzo Sule tailled 10 points off the bench.
Shabazz recorded a game-high 23 points for App State. Senior forward Tyrell Johnson added 12 points, while freshman guard Adrian Delph and Forrest added 10 points each.
Texas State’s win over the Mountaineers snapped a two-game losing streak and moved the Bobcats into a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Georgia State and UT Arlington.
Texas State finishes its three-game homestand against Coastal Carolina (12-10, 6-4) on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Bobcats knew they’d snap their losing streak on Thursday. Now they look to build off their win over App State.
“Everything is clicking this year,” Nottingham said. “We just got knocked off our high horse. It’s just a reality check that we can be beat. We’re not unbeatable. We just got to keep doing what we’re doing and play hard.”