The Texas State women’s basketball team’s two game winning streak came to an end as the Bobcats fell to the University of Texas- Arlington Mavericks on the road on Saturday.
The 69-49 loss put the Bobcats 3-11 in conference and 10-15 overall as they fight for enough wins to reach the Sun Belt Championship Tournament.
The Bobcats started the game sluggish as the Mavericks started the game on a 10-0 scoring run. The empty runs, combined with weak spots in rebounding—with 29 rebounds to the Mavericks’ 45—turned out to be a recurring theme as the ‘Cats struggled to gain a lead throughout the game.
UTA formulated a game-plan to combat the Bobcats, going under ball screens and forcing the ‘Cats to shoot the ball. As a result, Texas State shot an inefficient 30.4% from the field and 20% from the three-point range.
The ‘Cats were down 11 points heading into the half, but a shootout to start the third quarter of play put the Bobcats at only a seven-point deficit. The Mavericks recovered from their lull however, and pulled away with a 10-3 scoring run to close the quarter. Texas State was outscored 14-20 in the final quarter to finish out the game with a 20-point loss.
With eight freshmen and sophomores and only senior guard Brooke Holle with previous starting experience, Head Coach Zenarae Antoine said that success will take time.
“A lot of players haven’t seen the true game time so far within their young careers, so if you take that in with the fact that we’re pretty youthful, it’s going to take time,” Antoine said. “My favorite mantra for this team is ‘quitters never win and winners never quit’. They’ve been winners through all of this because all of them practice hard and that is great to see. Their record doesn’t reflect how much fun I’ve been having.”
The Bobcats were led in scoring by sophomore guard Kennedy Taylor’s 15 points, followed by sophomore forward Da’Nasia Hood who scored 14 points.
Head coach Zenarae Antoine said that Hood has had great scoring performances as of lately and is now scouted by competitors as a triple-threat shooter.
“Da’Nasia, for us, her role has been defined by her ability to score,” Antoine said. “To see her evolve just within her sophomore year into someone who demands a scout presence, meaning people have to figure out how to defend her, is really neat. She’s a kid who can score on all three layers.”
Junior forward Jayla Johnson once again provided a spark off the bench for the ‘Cats, recording nine points, four blocks and three offensive rebounds.
Despite the tough loss, there is still hope for Texas State’s season, according to Antoine. Antoine said that adding situations in practice has given the team a leg up as they rose from their eight-game losing streak to go 3-3 in the last six games.
“We’ve adjusted practice in the last three weeks and we add a lot of situationals,” Antoine said. “We put our team in a variety of different situations where they have to be able to respond, whether we’re up or we’re down or the game is tied, and I really think that that’s helped with some of the stress and anxiety that was occurring (at the beginning of conference play).”
Next week, the Bobcats will play both the two most important games of their season and their final two home games.
Texas State currently stands at 11th in the Sun Belt Conference standings. If the Cats’ can pull off wins in both of these games, they could be back in contention for the postseason tournament.
The team may be fighting for a last chance shot, but Antoine said it’s important to keep it one game at a time as they conclude regular season play.
“It’s important that you take it game by game,” Antoine said. “You don’t want to add a lot of stress, especially on a team that’s younger. I think it’s important to approach each game as an opportunity to get better, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
The ‘Cats will hit Strahan Arena two more times to take on Georgia Southern (6-9), who currently stand at ninth in the Sun Belt Conference, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, followed by a game against 10th-place Georgia State (5-10) 2 p.m. Saturday.