New Mexico State University’s athletic frontline came into San Marcos and ended the Bobcats’ three-game win streak while extending its own to eight in an 86-72 triumph.
Senior forward Bandja Sy marked his third double-double with a game-high 24 points and 13 rebounds. Sy shot 9-11 from the field, 2-2 from three, and 4-5 from the free-throw line. Sophomore guard Daniel Mullings contributed 22 points and five assists. Mullings shot 10-10 from the foul line.
Freshman center Sim Bhullar scored 10 points and collected nine boards.
“First of all, they have a 7-foot-5-inch guy (Bhullar) that clogs everything up,” said Coach Doug Davalos. “They are very athletic—they start an NBA frontline, sizewise. They start a 7-foot-5-inch, a 6-foot-10-inch, and a 6-foot-8-inch. Two of them are extremely athletic and one is the hugest, biggest man I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Senior forward Matt Staff ended his conference shooting slump with his third double-double of the season marking 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Bobcats’ second-leading scorer has taken a dip since WAC play has commenced. Staff has gone from 11.1 average on the season to 6.1 points-per-game in WAC play. His shooting percentage is down to 32.9 percent from 44.0 in non-conference. During WAC play, Staff has five games scoring less than 3 points.
Junior forwards Corey Stern and Joel Wright finished with 16 points and 14 points respectively.
A youth movement took place at Strahan Coliseum on Saturday, led by University of Denver sophomore guard Brett Olson. Olson helped the Pioneers conquer the Bobcats 79-64.
Olson tamed the Bobcats by marking a career-high 22 points and seven assists. Olson shot 7-12 from the field, 4-7 from beyond the arc and 4-4 from the free-throw line. Olson’s 22 points more than doubled his conference average of 10.4.
Denver has the eighth youngest team in all of college basketball, with an average of 0.85 years of experience per player.
Denver shot 55.3 percent from the field. The Pioneers are now 5-0 in the WAC when converting better than 50 percent from the floor.
Not only did Denver dominate the offensive side of the ball, its stifling defense held the Bobcats to 33.3 percent shooting in the first half. The Pioneers’ ball pressure made Texas State one-dimensional. Guard play was nonexistent until 5:09 left in the half when Wesley Davis’ lay-up tallied the first basket by a Texas State guard.
The Pioneers gave Texas State its sixth straight loss at home. Denver started the game with a 9-4 run and led by as much as 12 points during the first half. The Pioneers continued with a 7-0 tear to start the second half. The team’s largest lead was 16 points with 13:28 remaining in the game. Texas State never held the lead.
Junior forward Joel Wright led the Bobcats with a double-double, scoring 33 points and tying a career high with 12 rebounds. Wright converted 14-18 from the foul line. Basil Brown provided a spark off the bench and chipped in 9 points. Texas State’s bench outscored Denver’s bench 48-11.
“(Wright) had a tremendous game, but at the end of the day, he didn’t get very much help at all,” Davalos said. “He fought, and we had to ride him the whole game. He was a tough mismatch. He was the only guy who handled his physicality down low. He fought fire with fire the whole game.”
New Mexico and Denver are tied for second in the WAC at 9-2. The Bobcats were beat by double figures and witnessed a shooting display wherein both opponents shot over 55 percent from the field, holding Texas State under 37 percent in both games.
“Denver and New Mexico State are pretty good teams,” Davalos said. “This is the toughest schedule that Texas State has ever played—not just as Division I, but ever. The quality of competition every night is in your face. The teams we face are very talented.”
The Bobcats are 7-16 overall and hold a 3-8 conference record. Texas State is currently ranked eighth out of 10 teams in the WAC.
“We don’t have a lot of guys that could play on every team in this league, as much as we want to say it,” Davalos said. “So we’ve got to fight; we’ve got to get stronger; we’ve got to get more physical; and we’ve got to get in the gym. But you don’t over-simplify the fact that good teams are coming in here.”
Players were made unavailable for interview after the game.