By Reily Chestnut
What an achievement for this Bobcat program! You wouldn’t know it but this was the first time that Texas State started conference 3-0 under head coach Zenarae Antoine. The Bobcats focused on shutting down the rebounding battle and playing fierce defense to take the 73-58 win over Coastal Carolina, opening their conference schedule in Strahan Arena perfectly.
First, we can’t ignore the Bobcats’ lack of size compared to the Chanticleers heading into this conference matchup. If the ‘Cats wanted to win the way they knew how to, they would have to play with an edge. You don’t win the “war stats” like rebounding and defense without making up for the size mismatch. So, the two players that Texas State depended on to grab boards needed to bring it. Senior Zandra Emanuel and sophomore Jayla Johnson couldn’t afford to clown around. Good news: they brought it.
Emanuel led the way with 13 rebounds, which means she has her second SBC game with over 10 rebounds this season after grabbing 14 boards at Georgia Southern. Meanwhile, Johnson brought stepped up with 12 points and six glass grabs for her teammates. The rebounding bug was contagious though. The Holle twins, Brooke and Bailey, pulled down a combined 15 boards to help the ‘Cats out rebound the top board dogs in the conference 45-37. Scoring wise though, they ‘Cats didn’t find their touch until recess let out after trailing 32-26 heading into the third quarter.
That’s when TXST blew away the Chanticleers, outscoring them 25-9 in the third period. They would be led by (#24) Holle’s 19 points while star Toshua Leavitt scored 16 points and gave Coastal Carolina an earful in the second half. Assistant coach Paige Love gave huge credit to freshman Kennedy Taylor for her driving ability and the dynamic ways the Dallas native influences the Bobcats’ offensive flow. Without all of these ingredients, the victory might not have held up against a tough opponent like Coastal Carolina.
The victory moves the Bobcats to 8-7, their first chance to stand above .500 this season. Now they just need to work on their free throws after shooting an uncharacteristically low 13-of-24 against CCU.
Next up, Appalachian State on Saturday at 2 p.m. on KTSW 89.9!
Featured photo by Texas State Athletics.