Tournament win brings Bobcat losing streak to end

Photo From the Sun Belt Conference

Texas State Men's Basketball

Texas State’s nine-game losing skid finally came to an end.

The No. 9-seeded Bobcats (15-17, 7-11 Sun Belt) picked up a 73-66 win over No. 8 Coastal Carolina (14-18, 7-11) on Wednesday in the opening round of the Sun Belt Championship tournament inside Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.

“It’d be ignorant for me to say that this is the most welcomed victory as we’ve had a nine-game losing streak, and the longest in my coaching career, and certainly it’s a very painful thing in that our players have continued to fight through these losses,” head coach Danny Kaspar said following Wednesday’s win. “Six of those losses, I want to say, all have been by four points or less - Two in overtime … These players did not quit on me. They’ve continued to play hard. Come to practice and compete."

Texas State received a strong effort from its leading scorer - Sophomore guard Nijal Pearson, who tallied a team-high 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and four assists against the Chanticleers. Senior guard Tyler Blount went 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points. Junior guard Tre Nottingham notched 10 points. But a surprising effort from redshirt sophomore forward Eric Terry pushed the Bobcats past Coastal Carolina. Terry scored a career-high 16 points and added five rebounds.

“The big gun for us tonight in terms of increasing his production was Eric Terry,” Kaspar said. “Eric Terry is a young man, you know I’m trying to, he is just such a meek person. I’m trying to make him realize, ‘Look, continue to be that soft-spoken, very nice altar boy that you are off the court. But on the court, understand that if you want to win games, you got to get more physical, tougher in there and so forth.' You know, he really hit some big shots for us. He’s the difference in the game.”

Texas State and Coastal Carolina battled back-and-forth in the first half, and the Bobcats escaped with a 32-28 advantage.

Texas State exploded offensively early in the second half with two 3-pointers from Blount, and buckets from Pearson, senior forward Immanuel King and junior forward Alex Peacock. The Bobcats saw their lead swell to 16 points twice.

Texas State held an appearingly comfortable 14-point advantage with 8:11 left in regulation. The Bobcat attack, however, went cold and Coastal Carolina found its shot. Texas State didn’t score a field goal for a 7:47 span late in the second half, and the Chanticleers found themselves within four points.

But a late bucket from Terry ended the drought and the Bobcats pulled away to secure their first win since Jan. 27.

Texas State moves on to play No. 1 seed Louisiana (26-5, 16-2) on Friday in the conference quarterfinals. Kaspar said the Bobcats will have to play smart to move past the Ragin’ Cajuns.

“We’ll just have to come out and compete and leave everything out on the table,” Kaspar said. “I’ve been telling them that I don’t think we’re as talented as some other teams but our fight, our heart can be bigger than those teams. That’s what I’m banking on that we got bigger hearts than anybody we play.”

San Marcos Daily Record

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