The men’s basketball team will look to continue keeping themselves in games when they close their home schedule Thursday and Saturday against Seattle University and the University of Idaho, teams they have defeated in come-from-behind fashion earlier this season.
Texas State men’s basketball thrived off second-half offensive surges earlier in the season in a 78-73 victory over Idaho and an 86-83 triumph against Seattle.
Seattle is currently riding a five game losing streak but has dropped its last three by a combined 11 points, including a 6-point loss to now nationally ranked Louisiana Tech University.
Seattle leads the WAC in defensive (26.6) and offensive rebounding (14.1). The Redhawks scored 44 in the paint and collected 21 offensive rebounds, which accounted for 20 second-chance points in their first game against Texas State.
“We have to execute our game plan,” said Coach Doug Davalos. “More importantly, we’ve got to play tough. Seattle is a great offensive rebounding team. They really hurt us inside last time. We have to do a better job of protecting the paint.”
Junior forward Reid Koenen led the Bobcats with 24 points scored and six boards in the team’s first meeting against Seattle. Junior forward Joel Wright finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Phil Hawkins contributed 13 points and six assists.
Redshirt junior forward Clarence Trent led the Redhawks with 22 points and eight rebounds. Redshirt freshman forward Deshaun Sunderhaus recorded a double-double, 17 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Chad Rasmussen added 11 points.
Texas State held the Redhawks’ athleticism to six fast break points and six points off turnovers last meeting, two components that ultimately led to a 12-point, second-half comeback.
“We used our fundamentals,” Hawkins said. “It’s about doing the little things, like boxing out. Don’t gamble, and (be) smart with every decision you make.”
The Bobcats trailed 42-35 at the half on the road against Seattle but then scored 51 points in the second half, giving them an 86-83 win.
“You’ve always got to get better,” Davalos said. “We also beat UTSA the first time, then they stomped us in the first half (of their second meeting). So, we’ve got to come out and compete harder than they do.”
Idaho recently snapped its four-game losing streak against Idaho State University in their Ramada BracketBusters game. The Vandals are ranked number one in free throw percentage (.770) and three-pointers (.389) and second in field goal shooting (.474) in conference play.
Such proficient shooting is helped by sophomore guard Connor Hill, who is leading the conference going 46 percent from behind the 3-point line in WAC play. Overall, Hill is ranked seventh in the nation at 45 percent for the season from beyond the arc. Senior center Kyle Barone is fourth in field goal percentage (.566) and second in free throws (.831) in the WAC.
Idaho led by 17 points with 7:36 left in the first half, but Texas State trimmed its deficit to four heading into halftime. Texas State outscored Idaho 48-39 in the second half in the first meeting.
Wright scored a WAC season high 37 points while gathering six rebounds, dishing out five assists and collecting five steals against the Vandals in the first matchup.
Barone posted a double-double with 27 points and 16 rebounds. Barone is the only player in the WAC averaging a double-double, 17.5 points and 10.4 rebounds.
Texas State will honor its seniors before Saturday’s game against Idaho. Matt Staff and Vonn Jones, both seniors, reflected on time at Texas State, the final two upcoming home games and their respective careers.
“It’s been great,” said senior forward Matt Staff. “It’s been everything I could ever hope for and even more. These guys are my family now. When I transferred, they brought me right in. The past three and a half years here, two and a half playing, have been the greatest experience. I love playing here at Texas State, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Staff is currently second on the team in points (10.9 ppg) and rebounds (6.0 rpg), and shoots 91.5 percent from the foul line. Jones is averaging 5.1 points and 2.8 assists per game. He is second on the team with 38 steals on the season.
“It’s been a great privilege to play Division I basketball here at Texas State,” Jones said. “I have made new friends and grew as a young man here, and I won’t forget the times I had here with the team I was a part of.”