By Reily Chestnut
Assistant Sports Director
Looking back in 20 years at the stat sheet for this Sun Belt championship game, you can bet some won’t remember anything but the 54-53 final score that favored Little Rock over Texas State. So I’m going to make this simple. This game wasn’t supposed to end like this with the Trojans holding on for dear life and another SBC title.
As Bobcat broadcaster Brant Freeman said, “Not all one point games are created equal.” You’re damn right they aren’t. These Bobcats made sure of that despite the obstacle that laid in their path after the worst first half of their season. How bad was it? The ‘Cats trailed 38-20 to a Trojan squad that lost only one conference game all season. Little Rock was in full on lockdown mode after holding the team to 6-of-30 shooting while knocking down 54 percent of their shots. Most teams in the Sun Belt probably would have just packed their bags and said they just couldn’t beat this Little Rock team. So many had tried and failed to even scare Joe Foley’s squad. But not Texas State.
Starting after three minutes passed in the third quarter the Bobcats fought back and proved just why they deserved to be competing for a conference championship. Down 21 points in the second half, they ended the third quarter down by just 11 points and started to show life against the best defensive team in the Sun Belt. Cue a 16-2 run in the fourth quarter and the Bobcats have taken the lead 53-52 with just 3:22 left for a chance to go to the dance. Everything seemed to be falling into place at the right time as the ‘Cats outscored the Trojans by 19 after the second half started while knocking down four threes–including Taeler Deer and Toshua Leavitt making some big shots down the stretch. Meanwhile, sophomore Brooke Holle backed them up once again with a stat line that read as 10 PTS and seven REBS, making me feel good about her coming years in San Marcos.
But in the end, the Bobcats couldn’t get one last shot to fall off the hand of Deer and the heartbreak envelops this team. But I encourage you not to be sorry for them in any way or sulk by yourself. This team has been the best in Bobcats’ Div. I history by finishing with 23 wins. Plus, their season isn’t over. As sad as it is that they won’t get a chance to go to the NCAA tourney, the NIT will certainly come calling, thereby giving you a chance to keep following this team on their journey through the postseason. The biggest joy of all, we can all have at least one more chance to send Bobcat seniors Taeler Deer, Ericka May, Ti’Aira Pitts and grad student Zelor Massaquoi off into the sunset.
Featured Photo by Nicole Wolf.