The Texas State women’s basketball team improved to fourth in the Sun Belt Saturday by defeating the Troy Trojans 87-82 in overtime.
Texas State scored 14 points in overtime to notch Coach Zenarae Antoine’s first overtime victory of her three-year tenure with the Bobcats.
“What an exciting game for Bobcat fans today,” Antoine said. “It wasn’t so exciting if you are a coach, especially at the free throw line. That was pretty stressful, largely because we had gotten over the hump, and I felt we could’ve nailed it if we would’ve made more free throws.”
Texas State missed 17 of a season-high 42 free throws. Sophomore forward Erin Peoples and senior center Ashley Ezeh combined for 23 free throws.
“The kids found another way,” Antoine said. “The one thing I loved about this team, towards the end of the game, you saw it in their eyes. I felt the energy level. In this particular sense, I always knew they were going to win the game. I just didn’t know at what point.”
Texas State faced a 4-point deficit with 1:16 remaining. Peoples converted on two layups to tie the game at 73 with 15 seconds left. Trojans senior guard Joanna Harden missed a shot at the end of regulation.
“We ran what we always run,” Antoine said. “The focus was getting to the rim and the free throw line, because they were in the bonus situation. The focal point was nailing screens because Troy struggles defensively. We knew we could find open opportunities in flow and get to the free throw line.”
Troy lost its sixth conference game, dropping to ninth out of 10 teams in the Sun Belt.
“Troy is a very good team,” Antoine said. “They are coming into their own. There are things right now that they don’t necessarily connect on, but anytime you have a kid like Harden, they will always have a chance.”
Harden, the fourth most prolific scorer in Division I, scored 21 points on 32 shots. Averaging 24.8 points prior to the game, she scored 6 points on 2 of 11 shooting in the first half.
“Kaylan (Martin) did a great job,” Antoine said. “We understood Harden wanted to get to the free throw line and score. We did a good job contesting her shot and getting her frustrated. The more frustrated she got—it got into her head.”
Five Bobcats finished in double-figures. Ezeh and junior forward Jacqueline Jeffcoat tallied double-doubles. Peoples finished with a game-high 22 points, along with nine rebounds.
“It’s a good feeling scoring,” Peoples said. “I knew I had to turn it on defense. I worked on my offensive game in the preseason and it’s helped me now. I can always get better. I still haven’t played my best.”
Senior guard Kaylan Martin’s second 3-pointer tied the game at 82 in overtime. The Bobcats finished on an 11-0 run, as the Trojans did not score in the final 2:33.
“We aren’t thinking in terms of win and losses,” Antoine said. “Ultimately, it’s about putting ourselves in position for postseason play and getting better and competing.”
Texas State has won five of their last eight games, heading into the matchup with Western Kentucky (13-5) Feb. 1. The ball club has outscored their opponents by an average of 14.4 points in victories during this span.
“I told the team that by the time we hit the Western Kentucky game, we need to be at 100 percent of where we need to be,” Antoine said. “We need to be running like clockwork. We were 80 percent going into today’s game, so we are right where we want to be.”