One of the best seasons in Texas State history came to an end Saturday as the Bobcats fell to the Georgia State Panthers 59-46.
The Bobcats struggled all night with their shots, shooting a Texas State tournament low 21 percent from the floor and 17 percent in the first half. The ball movement for the Bobcats also struggled senior forward Alex Peacock said.
“We played the same, the shots just didn’t go in; which is just how the night went,” Peacock said.
While the Peacock and senior guard Tre’Larenz Nottingham both potentially played their last games while wearing the maroon and gold. The duo was known for their stellar play on the court, but also their leadership in the locker room. Peacock said it was natural for him to assume a leadership role on the team as he had done so throughout his career in high school.
“(Leaderships is) a role I’ve had assume throughout high school, junior college, and now here,” Peacock said. “So it’s kind of natural for me and it’s a role that’s fun to play. It’s fun to lead the guys (and) teach the guys things. Being part of this team was the best thing to ever happen to me.”
However, Peacock did not have the impact that he might have hoped for in the Bobcat’s semifinal loss. The senior shot 0-4 from the field with four points and four rebounds, head coach of the Bobcats Danny Kaspar said.
“Alex only got four shots, but Alex is our best three-point shooter,” Kaspar said. “If there is one thing I wish we could have done it’s gotten him more looks shooting the ball.”
Another player who went missing on offense was Bobcat first-team All-Sun Belt player, Nijal Person, who less than 24 hours earlier jokingly said he was fine with going 0-15 if it meant his team won. The guard came close, shooting 0-10 and failing to record a single point in the contest, Kaspar said.
“I don’t think Nijal (Pearson) played a very good game, and I think he’ll be the first person to tell you that,” Kaspar said. “Last time I saw this was two years ago when we were in the championship game. I think Nijal gets so revved up sometimes and wants to play so bad that it can affect him in a negative manner. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, in terms of wanting to go; he’s a very competitive person. At times I wish I could dial it down a notch.”
Pearson wasn’t the only player to struggle. The Bobcats starting five of Pearson, Peacock, Nottingham, Jaylen Shead and Eric Terry all combined for 7-41 from the field. With the only players in double figures for the Bobcats being Nottingham who had 13 and freshman Mason Harrell who had ten.
“It’s easier a lack of offense, a poor performance on the offensive end, takes away your focus,” Kaspar said. “It’s frustrating, particularly if the team is depending on you like we are on Nijal.”
Pearson isn’t too worried with the outcome, tweeting after the game that he was comfortable in his own skin and that he wasn’t worried about what anyone said about him.
I'm comfortable in my own skin what the next person say bout me will never phase me
— 22 (@NijalUno) March 17, 2019
The Bobcats turned the ball over 18 times, 12 times in the first half. A lot of the credit goes the Georgia State defense who were a pre-season favorite to win the conference, Georgia State’s head coach Ron Hunter.
“We won the league and these guys aren’t All-Conference players,” Hunter said. “Think about that. We don’t have anybody all Conference except for one guy. We got something to prove; to the coaches, to the media. You can’t tell me what we’ve done in this program that these guys since they’ve got here aren’t all league. We don’t’ care about individual awards all we care about is who goes to the NCAA Tournament.”
The Panthers had three starters who were able to score double digits with Malik Benlevi, D’Marcus Simonds, Jeff Thomas all being able to get to the rim, Hunter said.
“One of the things is about experiences. How do you prepare? How do you get here? We’ve been in semis,” Hunter said. “We’ve been in championship games. We’ve been in NCAA Tournament games. So, we know how to handle ourselves in regards of trying to win a championship.”
There is still hope however for Texas State, with Kasper hinting towards a tournament bid.
“Hopefully we are in some sort of postseason tournament, we’ll live to see another day,” Kaspar said. “It may not be for the big dance, and probably the way the Power Five control the NIT, it’s probably not the NIT. We’ll hopefully play in another one of those tournaments that are out there.”
Kaspar went on to say that he wanted to another opportunity for Peacock and Nottingham to suit up and for Pearson’s season not to end with goose eggs. If Texas State does get another chance, they will likely end up back in the College Basketball Insider or a similar tournament.