The Texas State women’s basketball team erased a 10-point deficit in the second half Wednesday to defeat the South Alabama Jaguars 64-60.
The Bobcats swept the season-series against South Alabama, winning both matchups by single-digits. The team swept three conference opponents this season.
Texas State improved to 14-14 overall and 11-6 in the conference. They won 11 conference games for the third time since 2007.
South Alabama was eliminated from postseason contention after losing its eighth consecutive game.
“It’s never easy going up against a team that has their back against the wall,” said Coach Zenarae Antoine. “You never truly know someone’s heart, and I give a lot of credit to Coach (Terry) Fowler for what he’s doing with this program.”
Texas State trailed by 4 points at halftime and as many as 10 in the second half after the Jaguars’ 10-2 run.
“I felt calm in that first half,” Antoine said. “I was upset about the fact that they were doing a good job of getting to the free throw line and putting the ball on the floor. They did a better job driving all the way for layups, but I knew we had the legs and the ability to stop them in the second half.”
The Bobcats responded with a 15-3 run after Antoine implemented a full-court pressure scheme.
“It’s a strategic play,” Antoine said. “We aren’t known to press, but this team is down. They just played on the road on a Sunday. They were also short a guard that played substantial minutes, and the strategy ended up working. You saw the fatigue in the Jaguars, and they started getting down and missing shots. It’s something that we can pull out when we need it.”
Ayriel Anderson, sophomore guard, led the team with 18 points on five of eight shooting from the field and seven of eight shooting at the free throw line. Anderson added five assists and two steals in 22 minutes.
“Ayriel (Anderson) has turned it on statistically,” Antoine said. “She’s matured as a player, and that’s something we have continuously working on with her. She just kept her head and stayed focus. Ayriel (Anderson) is a tremendous player.”
Anderson scord 16 points in the second half, and she accounted for 5 of the Bobcats’ last 8 points.
“I noticed they were sagging off, and coach told me to attack, attack, attack,” Anderson said. “When I started attacking off the high screen and getting my shooters open, it opened up the offense so I could get to the rim and get the offensive flow we normally play.”
South Alabama missed 13 of its 16 3-pointers. The Jaguars shot 26.9 percent behind the arc in two games against the Bobcats, nearly 10 points lower than their season-average of 36.8.
“We have really scouts that can shoot the 3-pointer so it really gave us a test to see how the game was going to be played,” Anderson said. “The pressure around the arc really startled them.”
Texas State is tied with Arkansas-Little Rock for third place in the conference. The Bobcats’ final regular season game is against the Troy Trojans, who clinched a playoff spot in the Sun Belt postseason tournament.
Troy, the conference’s top-ranked offense, scored 82 points in an overtime loss to the Bobcats in their last matchup.
“They want a track meet,” Antoine said. “We are going to have to do our best to slow them down, and that defensive effort is going to be important. Put all records aside. It’s going to test us. I like that test before we go into New Orleans, because we are going to get their best on the road in a new place we’ve never been. That will truly test the teams’ character.”