The Texas State men’s basketball team earned a first-round bye in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament after beating The University of Louisiana – Monroe Warhawks 70-65 in their final regular season game Saturday evening.
A win over UL Monroe from the Bobcats and a South Alabama victory over Arkansas State placed the Bobcats in the fourth seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Bobcats earned a first round bye during the tournament.
Texas State ended their regular season with a record of 18-12 and a conference record of 11-7.
With two back-to-back three-pointers from Nijal Pearson, freshman guard, the Bobcats jumped to a 6-2 lead.
There were multiple lead switches during the first half with neither teams opening the gap more than five points.
The greatest lead of the half came after a Bobcat 13-2 run and a three-pointer from Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, senior forward, making the score 24-18 with six minutes on the clock.
UL Monroe answered with seven straight points, taking a 25-24 lead. With 3:36 on the clock, Gilder-Tilbury knocked down a three-pointer giving the Bobcats the 27-25 lead.
A three-pointer from Tyler Blount, junior guard, and two free-throws from Gilder-Tilbury put Texas State in a 34-30 lead going into the half.
The Warhawks were first on the board going into the second half, but the Bobcats had six consecutive points, opening the gap 40-32.
After a Pearson three-pointer, Monroe went on a 10-0 run for a little over four minutes. This run was broken by Ojai Black, senior guard, after he made a layup and one with 9:54 on the clock. Texas State was down 49-48.
With a dunk from Maxwell Starwood, freshman forward, and a jumper from Gilder-Tilbury, the Bobcats had taken back the lead by one point with 6:59 on the clock.
UL Monroe answered with a layup but the Bobcats went back down the court scoring a layup and three free-throws. The Bobcats had taken the last lead of the night with six minutes left in the game.
The Bobcats finished the game shooting 48 percent from the field goal and 68.2 percent from the free-throw line. Texas State had three players finish the game with double digits points. Pearson led the way with 17 points. Gilder-Tilbury had 16 and Black finished with 15.
Pearson also led the team with four assists and two steals.
Defensively, Starwood ended the game with a team-high and a career-high of seven rebounds.
For Texas State, the Sun Belt Conference Tournament is up next.
The Bobcats will not play until Friday at 2 p.m. at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. Texas State will play the winner of the Arkansas State and UL Monroe match taking place Wednesday afternoon.