By Reily Chestnut
Assistant Sports Director
The women’s basketball team took home their first game of the 2018 Sun Belt Tournament over Coastal Carolina 78-69. The game was a reflection of just what college basketball during March Madness should be: gritty and exciting to watch or listen to on the airwaves.
Following the men’s Thursday morning win over the Chanticleer men, the Bobcat women’s team wanted to put an end to Coastal Carolina’s overall hope on International Women’s Day. Despite the disparity in ranks entering this game between the second seeded Bobcats and the seventh seeded Chanticleers, CCU didn’t back down against a Bobcat team that had won 21 games before today’s battle. The odds couldn’t have been more stacked in Texas State’s favor before tipoff. They had the nation’s most prolific three-point shooter in junior Toshua Leavitt and the Sun Belt Player of the Year in senior guard Taeler Deer.
Anyone outside of Conway, South Carolina wouldn’t have hesitated to say Texas State should win this game and obviously they did. But it required Deer literally bleeding for this team and ending up with a few stitches and a bandage above her right eye. You would think that would phase her performance in the second half… but you’d be wrong. Immediately after getting stitched up, Deer came back in the game and knocked down a 15-foot jumper to silence any doubt about how badly she wants to take this team to the big dance. Deer started the game 1-for-7 before finishing off the box score with 22 PTS on 7-of-15 shooting with a team-high nine assists. At this moment I advise you to thank the basketball gods for Deer. You don’t see a player like this in your program every day, let alone for four years. But she wasn’t alone versus one tough SBC underdog.
Leavitt finished with 18 PTS and will be heading into Saturday’s semifinal game just two three pointers away from breaking the NCAA single season record. Sophomore guard Brooke Holle helped pick up the slack in a first half that saw Deer and Leavitt shoot 4-for-18 by finishing with 11 PTS, five REBS and two STLS on 4-of-8 shooting. But the biggest difference versus the Chanticleers would have to be senior forward Ti’Aira Pitts scoring 17 points with a game high of five treys. Basically, Pitts Chanti-cleared them out of the LakeFair Arena locker rooms and sent them home.
Now that Texas State has won 22 games to surpass the 21-win team in 2007-08, they win look to continue their trek through the SBC tourney and get back the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. They will play the winner of the quarter final matchup between No. 3 UTA and No. 6 Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Listen in on KTSW 89.9!
Featured image by Nicole Wolf.