Taelour Pruitt goes into the teeth of the JMU defense in the Sun Belt Championship Game. Pruitt finished the game with 12 points.
Photo provided by the Sun Belt Conference.
Texas State falls in Sun Belt Championship Game
Texas State could not overcome a hot shooting James Madison team as the Bobcats fell to the Dukes 81-51.
“We have to take in the moment,” Taylor said. “We have to make sure that we are ready from the jump. JMU played a hell of a game but we will definitely get back into the gym and do what we need to do in the postseason.'
Despite being tied up in the first quarter, the Dukes started to pull away following a 9-0 run in the second quarter and never looked back.
Head Coach Zenarae Antoine was disappointed in the loss particularly due to knowing this wasn’t Texas State's best performance.
“It was a tough one because I feel like we didn’t play our best,” Antoine said. “James Madison for sure showed up and played their best. Obviously with 00 (Peyton McDaniel) coming in like she did, we talked about how she was the sixth woman of the year and she really showed that today.”
The game was highlighted on a lights out performance by the Dukes’ guard Peyton McDaniel who was 10-11 from field goals and 7-7 from three point range to score 30 points on the Bobcats.
“She shot phenomenally,” Antoine said. “We just couldn’t stop the bleeding. In addition to that, I felt like we could have done a better job rebounding wise … we just struggled defensively and one of the things we need to focus on come postseason play is that we are prepared. I felt like we didn't get off to a good start and we just played catch up.”
The Dukes shot an eye popping 75% from beyond the arc while also scoring 44.3% from field goal range.
It was a point to Antoine to try and keep the spirits of the team up knowing, as a D1 college athlete, the difficulty of trying to stay when the other team can’t miss.
“A lot of times, you want to make sure that you are keeping your athletes engaged and positive even though they are struggling,” Antoine said. “The mindset you need to have in that scenario varies from woman to woman, athlete to athlete … It can be very difficult when we feel like they are trying and they are still landing a big shot.”
But despite the loss, Antoine didn’t want to undersell the historic season the Bobcats had this year as the team won their first regular season title since 2008 while breaking records.
“This doesn’t negate any of the positivity that we had up till this point,” Antoine said. “We have had a lot of wins, earned a regular season championship, all-conference players, and having an opportunity to play in the postseason. Nobody can take that away from them.”
But Texas State’s season is not over yet due to the Bobcats winning the Sun Belt regular season title which gives them an automatic bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
This will be the Bobcat’s third overall appearance in the WNIT with Texas State qualifying in 2008 and 2018.
The bracket will be announced March 13.