The Texas State’s men’s basketball team got their first win since January, beating former Southland Conference foe Lamar University 74-61 in the ESPN BracketBusters game to snap a five-game losing streak.
Lamar won the Southland Conference tournament last year, earning a spot in March Madness. However, only three teams have a lower winning percentage than the Cardinals this year.
The Bobcats ended their losing streak with the help of junior forward Joel Wright, who filled the statistic sheet with 27 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four blocks and two steals. Wright said the team needed the game to get their confidence up.
“We didn’t go into the game looking at the record or stats,” Wright said. “We looked at it as an opportunity to work on different parts of our game.”
Wright’s performance earned him his second WAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week honor. Wright leads the WAC in conference-only matches with 18.7 points per game and is ranked No. 1 for the season at 17.6 ppg. The match against the Cardinals was his eighth 20-point game.
Junior guard Deonte’ Jones added 19 points, all but one of them coming from 3-point territory. Senior forward Matt Staff recorded his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 12 points and collecting 11 rebounds.
“Deonte’ is a big part of this team,” Wright said. “When he’s hitting his jump shots, we’re a dangerous team. He’s been in a slump, and I told Phil (Hawkins) we needed to get him the ball. When Deonte’ gets hot, he makes the game easier for everyone.”
Texas State’s 13-0 run propelled the Bobcats to 21-9 early with 11:20 left in the first half. Wright scored the final 8 points of the half for the Bobcats.
With 11:17 left to play, Amos Wilson’s layup brought Lamar’s deficit to eight, 49-41. The Bobcats went on a 17-5 run to establish a 66-46 lead with 5:52 to play, the largest lead of the game. Wright scored 11 straight points during that run.
Lamar managed to commit a season low of 12 turnovers. The team averaged 18.7 per game with a -7.1 turnover margin coming in to the match.
Shooting at 36.1 percent and a 16-point deficit in the paint led the Cardinals to their fourth straight loss. Lamar shot 22-61 from the floor and was outscored 38-22 in the paint.
Lamar’s struggles this year have come from beyond the arc. The Cardinals are last in the nation with 1.7 3 pointers made per game. For the ninth time this season, Lamar was unable to connect from beyond the arc. Lamar shot 0-3 for the game, while Jones made six buckets from beyond the 3-point line.
Coming off a career-high 23 points against Nicholls, Lamar junior forward Amos Wilson recorded 19 points and seven rebounds and converted all of his foul shots. For the season, Wilson has averaged 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. Stan Brown added 16 points and matched a career-high 14 rebounds.
With four remaining matches, Texas State starts a two-game home stand against Seattle University (2-13 in WAC) and University of Idaho (5-10 in WAC). They finish the season on the road against Utah State University (9-5) and San Jose State University (3-11). Seattle, Idaho and San Jose State have three of the five worst records in the WAC and may give Texas State the opportunity to secure a higher seed for the conference tournament. The Bobcats are currently eighth out of 10.
“I think this game was a confidence boost,” Wright said. “I think everyone is ready, and we know what’s at stake. We know what we have to do, and we know where we stand. I think everyone just played their role, which is good. We win games when everyone contributes and plays their game.”
Coach Doug Davalos did not return inquiries for interview.