Men’s basketball falls short in final two home games of the season

Sports Reporter

The Bobcats dropped two straight games to Western Kentucky and Georgia State, putting the team on the brink of post-season elimination in its final home stand of the season.

Texas State fell Thursday night 51-50 to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in a game during which neither team shot above 42 percent on offense. Joel Wright, senior forward, led the team with 15 points, going 9 of 11 from the free throw line. Emani Gant, sophomore forward, was second on the team scoring 10 points.

Texas State held a 3-point lead at halftime and was able to hold the Hilltoppers’ leading scorers, George Fant and T.J. Price, to a combined 6 points.

Texas State increased its lead to 12 points in the second half. The Hilltoppers began to cut away at the Bobcat lead around the 15-minute mark. Fant and Price combined for 19 points on nine of 16 shots from the field.

The Bobcats shot 38.1 percent from the field in the first half and 31.6 in the second. Western Kentucky raised its shooting percentage from 35 percent in the first half to 46.4 in the second.

“(Western Kentucky) picked up the pressure on defense,” said Assistant Coach Rob Flaska. “Fant and Price put their heads down and they ‘beasted’ them to victory. Those two guys were the difference in this game.”

The final combined score of 101 points is the lowest total in a Sun Belt Conference game this season.

Saturday’s game versus Sun Belt leader Georgia State marked the last time seniors Wright, Reid Koenen, Gordon Ball, Phil Hawkins and Corey Stern would don a Bobcat uniform in Strahan Coliseum. The game opened with formal ceremonies acknowledging the contributions of each senior player.

Wright captured his 1,000th career point on an alley-oop from Hawkins. The Bobcats lost 66-55 to the Panthers in the final home game of the season. Wright and Hawkins led the team’s scoring efforts with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Texas State was down 23-22 at the half, but the team held Georgia State’s scoring duo of R.J. Hunter and Ryan Harrow to a combined 5 points on two of 12 shots.

“Normally we’d be up by at least five, and then we’d come out and lose it,” Hawkins said. “I think us being down, especially by two or three points—we were still hungry instead of going into the locker room lackadaisical.”

Georgia State’s Hunter scored 15 of his total 18 points in the second half. Hunter got to the free throw line 10 times in the second half.

“I give credit to our players,” said Coach Danny Kaspar. “I think in the second half we saw why (Georgia State) are the champions. Guys like Ryan Harrow and R.J. Hunter getting some points on us that we were stopping in the first half.”

Texas State did not shoot above 36 percent from the field. Georgia State raised its shooting percent from 27.6 percent in the first half to 72.2 in the second.

“We are not shooting the basketball well,” Kaspar said. “Give (Georgia State) some credit. We have to shoot the ball better than we have been shooting it.”

Kaspar said both losses at home have put the Bobcats in a “must-win situation.” Eighth-seeded Troy defeated Louisiana-Monroe Saturday, putting the Trojans one victory away from eliminating the Bobcats from conference tournament play.  

Texas State must look ahead to Thursday’s game against South Alabama before the final game of the season Saturday at Trojan Arena.