The Texas State women’s basketball team limited South Alabama, the top perimeter shooting team in the conference, to four 3-pointers Wednesday night in its 63-61 victory.
The Bobcats improved to 12-12 overall and 9-4 in the conference. The Bobcats have a .500 overall winning percentage for the third time this season.
“We put ourselves in place in the end to have enough of a cushion to win this game,” said Coach Zenarae Antoine. “There are some things we need to do execution wise better. As you heard the crowd, we had a huge sigh of relief.”
South Alabama made 52 percent of its shots in the second half to cut the lead to 2 points, despite Texas State leading by 12 points at halftime. The Bobcats committed eight fouls in the half, and the Jaguars converted 11 free throws.
“The thing that hurt us, ultimately, is that we kept fouling shooters and putting them to the free throw line,” Antoine said. “That kind of nicked away at that lead we have. They’re great 3-pointers, and that combination of putting them to the free throw line early and their ability to make 3s is really going to hurt you.”
Sophomore guard Ayriel Anderson scored a team-high 17 points. Anderson’s final field goal, a mid-range shot with 30 seconds left, gave the Bobcats a 63-59 lead. Anderson has finished in double figures in four of her last five games.
“I noticed the shot clock was going down, and I knew we needed a basket,” Anderson said. “I had confidence in my shot. Kaylan (Martin) set the rub screen, and it went in. I think I have a lot of freedom, and it opens up the offense.”
South Alabama intentionally fouled sophomore forward Erin Peoples, a 61 percent free throw shooter, with 10 seconds left in the game. Peoples missed the free throw, and Jennifer Johnson, South Alabama forward, missed the final shot as time expired.
“(I told myself to) breathe, take your time,” Peoples said. “Hold your follow through. I missed (the free throw), but I trusted my team to get back on defense and we stopped the ball and got the win.”
Meghan Dunn, South Alabama guard, who is third in the conference with 43 3-pointers, was limited to one in the matchup.
“Our history against great 3-point shooting teams has been kind of tough,” Antoine said. “So I’m really proud of these young women to guard the arc. It was one of the keys of the game, and they found a way to do that.”
Texas State’s Correy Moyer, freshman forward, scored 7 points in 14 minutes. Moyer missed the previous 12 games with a hand injury.
Texas State has not lost back-to-back matches since Dec. 22, a streak spanning 14 games.
“The most important thing is this team is slowly starting to mature,” Antoine said. “We aren’t making as many mistakes. They are still not where I’d like to be, but we are getting better. It’s a sign of maturity, so how we are able to handle this win and move forward against the best team in the conference will be important.”
The Bobcats’ next opponent is Arkansas State, the top team in the Sun Belt Conference. Texas State lost 81-67 in the teams’ previous matchup.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Peoples said. “Everybody wants to knock off the number one team, so you can put yourself into a good position.”