The Texas State’s women’s basketball team is looking to end their three-game losing streak at home when they host the University of Idaho (7-11, 4-3) on Thursday.
The Vandals come into Strahan Coliseum hitting 8.3 three-point shots per contest, which is ranked eighth best in the NCAA. The team connects on 33 percent of their shots that come from behind the arc each game, a WAC best.
Idaho will be led by the combo guard-forward Alyssa Charlston. The 6-feet-1-inch junior averages 14.4 points per contest and 7.9 boards per game, leading the Vandals in both categories. Coachrecognizes that the Bobcats will have to contain the “savvy” Charlston to find success in this game.
“(Idaho) is an excellent 3-point shooting team and (Charlston) is a phenomenal four player,” Antoine said. “She’s really savvy from inside and out. She’s got the length and the size. If you stick her in the middle of our zone, there will be times where it will cause us some fits. I think you will see us in a combination of things to stop her and the 3-point shot.”
The Bobcats will be missing double-double junior forward Ashley Ezeh. Ezeh is the WAC’s leading rebounder, grabbing 10 boards per contest. Without the forward in the line-up, rebounding will be the focus of Thursday’s matchup. Idaho leads the conference in rebounds earning 42.3 per game, while Texas State is last in the WAC with 49.5 rebounds per contest. Despite the numbers, Antoine has confidence in the team’s ability to crash the boards.
“On paper, if you look at it, we won at Arlington when we didn’t have Ashley,” Antoine said. “Obviously it was a close game, but we had the opportunity against UTSA to win. We just didn’t knock down the free throws, and that’s what cost us that game. We can still scheme and compete in our games. The girls and the coaches have a lot of confidence in their ability to rebound without Ashley being in there.”
On Saturday, Texas State will welcome the conference’s first place team, Seattle University. The Redhawks are currently undefeated in the WAC sitting at 7-0.
Seattle is second in the nation in steals, totaling 14.1 per game. The Redhawks are led on defense by junior guard Sylvia Shephard. She is tied for ninth in the NCAA in steals, picking the opponents’ pocket 3.56 times a game.
The Bobcats’ senior guard Diamond Ford, the WAC’s top scorer at more than 20 points per game, has been double, sometimes triple teamed all conference season long. Ford will aim to stay poised while still in attack mode to find the best success.
“I just have to come out and be aggressive and play hard,” Ford said. “From the beginning to the end I just have to not let their defense affect me, as well as our team. We just have to stay aggressive and finish at the free-throw line.”
Offensively the Redhawks will be led by junior forward Kacie Sowell. The six-feet-two-inch forward is fifth in the nation in field goal percentage, making 60 percent of her shots this season. Sowell averages 16.8 points per contest, making her the WAC’s fourth best scorer.
“(Seattle) is a real good defensive team,” freshman guard Ayriel Anderson said. “Playing at home against them, we should have home court advantage. Our offense should be really good, and we are just going to have to play better defense against them. We are going to have to play poised and with a sense of urgency. Knowing that we could push it down their throats at times, there will be times where we have to pull it back and be aware by not making lazy passes. We have to be on our p’s and q’s.”
Texas State currently sits ninth in the WAC with a record of 1-6. The Bobcats will end their five-game home stand against Seattle before they go on the road Jan. 31 to face New Mexico State University.