By Cordel Finley
A wise man once said, “If you’re not first then you’re last,” and that seemed to be the motto of the Texas State men’s basketball team as they took the floor today. The Bobcats are in sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference after defeating the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana by a score of 64-62.
It was senior night at Strahan and for the first time all season the Bobcats had a different starting five due to Alex Peacock being sidelined with the flu. Fellow senior, Tre Nottingham, made up for his absence, leading the team with 17 points. The Bobcats came out of the gate on a quick 6-0 run forcing the Ragin’ Cajuns to call a timeout to stop the momentum. Freshmen Mason Harrell provided a spark off the bench with seven points.
The Texas State defense was stifling in the first half, limiting Louisiana to just 27 percent from the field and 14 percent from three-point range. Although the Bobcats did not attempt a free throw in the first half, they dominated in other ways, an 11 rebounding advantage sealed a 35-23 lead going into the half.
After the start of the second half, it looked like it would be a runaway for Texas State. Louisiana would not go away without a fight though, they battled back to make things more interesting as they turned things around and shot 50 percent from the field in the second half.
Nottingham started the game off hot but cooled down throughout the second half and the feisty Cajun defense took full advantage of the leading scorer’s struggles. With 16 turnovers from the Bobcats, the lead had been cut down to seven with fewer than eight minutes to go.
Not long after that, Louisiana scored again and cut the lead to four, and it seemed as if the fans loud roars slowly turned to silence. After converting an alley-oop slam with 1:20 left to go, the Ragin’ Cajuns took their first and only lead of the game. Not long after, Nijal Pearson knocked down one of the biggest threes of his season to give Texas State the lead again for the last time as they defeated their opponent 64-62. Pearson and Eric Terry finished the game with 13 points apiece.
For the fourth straight game, The Bobcats shot 80 percent from the free throw line.
Head Coach Danny Kaspar spoke briefly to the crowd at Strahan to show his appreciation after the fans filled up the arena for the last home game of the season.
Up next the Bobcats look to stay in first place in the conference standings as they face the Troy Trojans away this Thursday at 6 p.m. which will be aired on KTSW 89.9.
Featured image by Cordel Finley.