Texas State splits weekend games

Sports Reporter

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Emani Gant, sophomore forward, goes up for a shot Feb. 20 at Strahan Coliseum. Texas State won 67-66 in overtime against South Alabama.

Texas State men’s basketball split its two games this weekend, taking an overtime victory against South Alabama at home before losing on the road to Arkansas State.

The Bobcats are 8-19 on the season, tying with Troy for eighth in the Sun Belt. Texas State fended off the South Alabama Jaguars Thursday night 67-66 in overtime. The scoring load was spearheaded by a career-night from Reid Koenen, senior forward, as he shot 7-10 from the 3-point range and scored a Texas State season-high 26 points.

“I’m happy for Reid,” said Joel Wright, senior forward. “That’s one dude I’m always telling to shoot the ball. When Reid’s shooting the ball good, and we get a couple of points on the field, nobody can beat us.”

Wright backed up Koenen’s performance with 21 points, eight rebounds and three blocks on the defensive end. Coach Danny Kaspar called a timeout with 11.5 seconds left in the extra period when the Bobcats were down one to set up a play.

“(In) the Lafayette game, we didn’t use a timeout,” said Assistant Coach Terrence Rencher. “We gambled, and we got burned. We weren’t going to allow that to happen again.”

Kaspar drew up a play for Wright to drive to the basket. Mychal Ammons, South Alabama forward, fouled out and put Wright at the free throw line with 2.6 seconds left. Wright converted both free throws to give Texas State the victory.

“(Wright) wanted the ball at the end,” Rencher said. “He wanted that situation, wanted that opportunity and didn’t shy away from the moment.”

Wright and Koenen were the only Bobcats to score in double figures. Texas State lost the rebounding battle but was able to hold the Jaguars to 37.5 percent shooting, below their season average of 40.8.

“We need any win, but we won a close game,” Kaspar said. “Instead of walking down to the locker room with our heads down, there are smiles everywhere, and that’s good.”

The Bobcats then traveled to Jonesboro Saturday and took on the third-place Arkansas State Red Wolves. Koenen could not keep his scoring streak going as he failed to make a field goal, and Texas State fell to Arkansas State 73-68 for the second time this season.

Wright and Phil Hawkins, senior guard, led the team in scoring with 19 and 18 points respectively. For the fourth straight game, Texas State did not have more than two players score in double figures.

“(Hawkins) played a good game,” said Assistant Coach Rob Flaska. “He moved over to play the two, and when he was in the game with Naiel (Smith, freshman guard), he really stepped it up offensively, looked very comfortable and hit some good shots. I thought that group gave us a good run.”

Texas State won or was even with Arkansas State in most statistical battles, but offensively the Red Wolves were able to shoot 52.4 percent in the game versus Texas State’s 48 percent.

Flaska said that despite being the conference’s best defense in points allowed per game, the team ranks last in field goal defense and 3-point defense. Troy holds the tiebreaker, so the Bobcats will look to their final three games before they take on Troy for, potentially, a one-game playoff for the last spot in the conference tournament held in New Orleans.

“We can do a lot of damage (in New Orleans),” Wright said. “Last year, we did a lot of damage without defense, and this year, we’re playing a whole lot more defense. Anything can happen.”