By Reily Chestnut
So much for the cherry on top of the sundae after the women’s team went undefeated in Georgia. In a heavily “officiated” battle, Texas State’s offense flickered like a flame before burning out to Georgia State 73-69 at Strahan Arena.
This game was a test for the Bobcats from the very beginning. Georgia State, the reigning conference tournament champions and preseason picks to take the conference once again, got running early thanks to forward Malik Benlevi. This high flying Panther scored the team’s first seven points before the Bobcats decided to use take advantage of their opponents’ smaller stature by utilizing starting forward Eric Terry. The big man scored six points while spurring the ‘Cats to a 14-7 lead. Then, the game went at the pace that Texas State favors when going against more “talented” opponents for much of the first half.
But there was a big issue for the home team. Texas State couldn’t find the bucket. The ‘Cats shot 9-of-32 while going 2-of-15 from 3PT land in the first half. Old demons started to take hold of Texas State. At one point, the team turnover four possessions in just two minutes. Add the 20-to-6 points advantage that Georgia State had inside the paint before intermission and you end up with the 26-24 halftime score that Texas State gave away to their visitors.
But, the meltdown didn’t take hold until later on as the Panthers’ offense woke up in the worst way after recess. The Panthers shot 46 percent in the second half with eight treys and 15-of-20 shooting at the foul line. Amazingly, Texas State still had their shot to win the game…if they could make their free throws. Unfortunately, the ‘Cats went 11-23 in the second half while shooting a sour 51.7 percent overall. That’s the fifth game in a row Head Coach Danny Kaspar’s squad squandered their freebies at such a high rate. Then there was the ejection heard around San Marcos.
Junior star Nijal Pearson was kicked out of the game with 11:54 to go after officials ruled that Pearson took a swipe at Panthers’ star D’Marcus Simonds’ groin. The call will leave Bobcat fans steaming for some time after Pearson was ejected while leading the team with 10 points and six rebounds. The hot hand over the ‘Cats last couple games, guard Tre Nottingham finished with the team-high of 17 points while nailing three treys, half of the total 3PTs made by the Bobcats in 25 attempts.
The loss was the first for Texas State inside the friendly confines. It also dropped the ‘Cats to 12-3 overall with a split 1-1 conference record. Can they figure out what ails them at the foul line before next weekend?
Bobcat fans certainly hope as the team travels to the Carolinas next week. They will start their first SBC road trip facing Coastal Carolina next Thursday night at 6 p.m.
Featured photo by Texas State Athletics.