By Matthew Hamill
The seventh seeded Texas State Bobcats couldn’t hold on down the stretch and fell 73-62 to third seeeded U.T. Arlington in the Sun-Belt Conference Tournament Quarter Final.
The Bobcats commanded the first half, beginning the game a perfect 7-7 from the floor and scored a quick 17 points. They had no turnovers in the first eight minutes.
U.T. Arlington managed to stay close in the first period, behind Drew Charles’ hot shooting. Charles made four 3-pointers in the first half and paced the Mavericks with 14 points.
Both teams were ice cold in the final minutes of the first half. However, the Bobcats were efficient and benefited from the Mavericks inefficient 3-point shooting. UTA shot 7-24 from beyond the three point line in the opening half while the Bobcats only attempted five 3-point shots.
The Bobcats led wire to wire in the first half.
However, in the second half Texas State looked like a team that played just 24 hours earlier. They starting the period ice cold, going 3-14 from the floor. This allowed Erick Neal and the fresh legs of the Mavericks to get back in the game.
An 11-4 run, capped of by Neal free throws, gave the Mavericks a 54-53 lead with eight minutes to go. It was Mavericks first lead of the night.
Seniors Emani Gant and Cameron Naylor responded and scored the Bobcats next 7 points. A couple of Naylor free throws tied the game at 60 with three minutes left. Making it a brand new ball game.
Unfortunately for Texas State, it was UT Arlington who were able to pull away in the final minutes. The Mavericks went on a 10-0 run, with eight of those points coming from Drew Charles. Charles, who had 14 at the half, scored all eight of his second half points during that run.
In the end, the Bobcats just couldn’t keep up, most likely the result of the close game Texas State played 24 hours earlier. With the loss the Bobcats are eliminated from the SBC Championship tournament and end the year with a 15-16 record.
This game marked the final time Emani Gant and Cameron Naylor would play in Maroon and Gold. Ethan Montalvo did not get to play in the season finale. Sadly, he missed the final game of the season with an injury he sustained the night before against Georgia State.
Emani Gant fouled out in his final Texas State game, however he finishes his career as the Bobcats 18th All-Time Leading Scorer, as Gant passed former Bobcat Joel Wright the night before.
This conference quarterfinal also marks the final game of an up and down season for Texas State Men’s Basketball.
After suffering a fifth straight loss in January, ironically to the same Mavericks team, the Bobcats bounced back and won 5 of 8 to get to the SBC Tournament. Coach Danny Kaspar can still hang his hat on his team’s scoring defense and he earned a career milestone 500th career victory this year.
With key players Ojai Black and Kavin Gilder-Tilbury returning next season, the Bobcats can look ahead to next season positively, looking to cause more upsets in the ever more competitive Sun-Belt Conference.
Featured image by Madison Tyson.