Texas State men’s basketball (3-3) lost 61-58 at home to the Our Lady of the Lake University Saints (1-3) Dec. 12.
This is the second loss in a row for Texas State after losing to the University of Texas 74-53 on Dec. 9.
Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson criticized his team for not learning from their mistakes against the Longhorns.
“It is my belief that you can lose or you can learn and this is a classic example,” Johnson said. “Versus Texas, we lost—and we did not learn. We are hopeful that we don’t need any more lessons after today.”
The Bobcats led for the majority of the game, but OLLU never let Texas State get too far ahead. Texas State dominated the offensive boards throughout the game but failed to convert on second-chance points allowing the Saints to chip away at the lead.
The first half got off to a slow start as both teams missed a combined five field-goal attempts. Junior forward Alonzo Sule got the scoring started for the Bobcats, scoring the first two buckets for his team. Four minutes in, Texas State was up 8-2 before OLLU came back with three straight three-pointers, two by junior forward Ruben Monzon, to take the lead 11-10 with 12:22 left in the first half.
The two teams would trade buckets for the better part of the next seven minutes of action. With 5:32 left in the first half, Texas State would go on a 10-2 run to take its largest lead of the half at 30-20.
The Bobcats failed to score for the remainder of the period, missing their last four shots and committing two turnovers in the last 2:20 of the half. The Saints scored 11 straight points to take the lead 31-30 going into halftime.
At the break, Texas State was shooting 41.9% (13-31) from the field but only made 16.7% (2-12) of its three-point attempts and 33.3% (2-6) of its free throws. The Bobcats' not-so-stellar shooting was in addition to their 11 turnovers.
Scoring was evenly distributed for the Bobcats in the first. Leading the team was senior forward Quentin Scott with nine points (3-4, 2-3 three-pointers), followed by Sule with six and junior guard Mason Harrell with four. Harrell also had four assists and two steals.
Senior forward Isiah Small led Texas State in rebounding for the period with six (two offensive). Following Small were Sule, Scott and graduate guard Marlin Davis, all with four.
OLLU also struggled scoring in the first half, shooting 37.5% (12-32) from the field, 37.5% (3-8) from behind the arc and 57.1% from the charity stripe.
Leading all scorers at the break was Monzon with 14 (6-10, 2-3 three-pointers). Following Monzon for the Saints was senior guard Lennox Jones Jr. with seven (3-6, 1-1 three-pointers) and junior guard Xavier Woodington with five (1-1, 3-4 free throws).
Monzon also led the Saints in first-half rebounds with six followed by senior forward Jordan Embry with five.
Texas State out rebounded OLLU 26-17 overall and 8-4 on the offensive boards but only managed four second-chance points in the opening period. The Saints also took better care of the ball, only committing six turnovers.
To start the second half, the Bobcats went on a 13-4 run, including seven points by Harrell, to take the lead 43-35 with 13:46 on the clock. Texas State would extend its lead to 49-38 before OLLU would go on a 15-2 run to retake the lead at 53-51 with 5:00 left in the game.
With the score tied at 55-55, the Bobcats would close out the game only shooting 1-8 from the field, despite reeling in four offensive rebounds. On the other end, the Saints shot 2-5 from the field and went 2-4 from the line to win the game 61-58.
OLLU’s field goal percentage gradually grew throughout the second half, leading to the win. The Saints finished shooting 42.9% (24-56) from the field and 40% (6-15) from behind the arc.
Going into the game, Johnson did not expect the Saints to be so good at scoring from up close.
“If you had told me that [they] would score 32 points in the paint, I probably would have told you it was going to be a long night for us,” Johnson said.
Monzon finished with a double-double, scoring a game-high 18 points (8-13, 2-3 three-pointers) and 11 rebounds. Following Monzon in the scoring column for the Saints was Jones Jr. with 12 and senior guard Ethan White with seven. Embry finished with nine rebounds, six points, a steal and a block.
Texas State’s shooting efficiency dropped in the final period, only hitting 34.8% of its field goals and 18.2% of its threes for the game.
Johnson says OLLU intentionally left his players open at times, daring them to shoot the ball, especially from three-point range.
“They sagged a little bit on some guys, they tried to go under on [some screens],” Johnson said. “[OLLU] said, ‘If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to beat us from behind the arc.”
Harrell led the Bobcats in scoring with 13 points (5-14, 1-7 three-pointers) along with a game-high five assists and three steals. Sule was second on the team in scoring with 12 (5-8), followed by Small with 11 (4-14).
Three players finished with double-digit rebounds for Texas State: Sule (11, four offensive), Small (11, five offensive) and Scott (10, four offensive). Sule also had two blocks and a steal.
So far this season, Sule has only averaged 2.4 rebounds per game. Johnson was happy to see Sule succeed on the boards in the game, but he wants him and the rest of the team to learn to make better decisions after securing rebounds.
“I thought we rebounded the ball pretty good today,” Johnson said. “Where I thought we made bad decisions was what we did when we got [the rebound]... Certainly, we encourage [Sule] and we have worked on [Sule] being able to attack the ball in the air; we just need to work on making better decisions. Not just [Sule] but anybody; you don’t necessarily have to go up with that shot.”
After the loss, Johnson described the mood in the locker room as “somber.” Looking ahead, Johnson wants his players to bounce back right away and not wait until the next game. Basketball does not last forever and Johnson wants his team to take advantage of every moment.
“Your focus needs to be where you are at this time because you’re going to really, really miss a good story that you’re writing,” Johnson said. “By the time somebody is telling [your story], you won’t be around to hear it. We’ve got to get our guys to focus more so on the process, embrace every single day, not look so much toward the games.”
Texas State has three days to “embrace the process” before it faces Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. on Dec. 15 in Strahan Arena.