Texas State men's basketball (11-4 overall, 5-1 Sun Belt) completed its weekend sweep against the University of Louisiana at Monroe (4-11, 2-6 Sun Belt) in a 69-63 win. The win marked the Bobcats' fifth straight victory on the season.
After a 57-47 defensive slugfest the previous night, both teams started the game in a high-paced offensive shootout in the first half before slowing down in the second.
ULM won the tip-off and got out to an early 4-2 lead off a driving layup by junior guard Koreem Ozier and two made free throws by junior guard Elijah Gonzales.
The Bobcats responded with two three-point buckets, each from junior guard Caleb Asberry and senior forward Isiah Small, to take the lead 8-6 at the 17:11 mark. Texas State kept the lead for the remainder of the contest.
The 'Cats capped off a 14-3 run with a put-back dunk by senior forward Quentin Scott to bring the lead to double digits, 19-9, with 12:02 left in the first half.
Out of a media timeout, Texas State junior guard Mason Harrell stole the ball from Gonzales which led to a contested three by senior guard Shelby Adams, giving the team its largest lead of the game 27-14 at the 6:57 mark.
ULM swiftly responded with an 8-2 run finished off by a pair of three-pointers by junior guard/forward Russell Harrison and Gonzales to cut the deficit down to single digits 29-22.
A layup and a corner three by Small brought the Maroon and Gold lead back to double digits, 34-24. ULM came back with an 8-0 run finished off by a wide-open three from Harrison to bring the game within two points, at 34-32, with 2:18 left in the first half.
A high-arced pull-up from Harrell ended the drought, but the rest of the half continued to be a back-and-forth affair. An open three by Scott closed the period with Texas State leading 41-36.
Texas State shot 58.6% (17-29 FGS) from the field and 53.8% (7-13 3FG) from deep. Despite the offensive outburst, the Bobcats struggled from the free-throw line, going 0-4 in the period.
Coming off the bench, Scott led the team in scoring with nine points (4-7 FGS, 1-3 3FG) and three rebounds in 10 minutes. Small only played 10 minutes in the half due to foul trouble, yet he was perfect from the floor with eight points (3-3 FGS, 2-2 3FG). Asberry had six points (2-5 FGS, 2-4 3FG) and three boards.
For the Warhawks, they shot 45.2% (14-31 FGS) overall and 33.3% (5-15 3FG) from the three-point line. ULM struggled to make shots from downtown as it went 1-8 to start the game before going 4-7 to finish the half.
Harrison led both teams with 11 points (4-10 FGS, 3-6 3FG) followed by Gonzales who had eight (2-3 FGS, 2-3 3FG). Junior guard Marco Morency scored five (2-4 FGS) and led both teams in rebounds (5) and assists (3).
Out of the locker room, the 'Cats came out hot in the second half with a driving layup by Asberry and an open three from Small to lead 46-36. ULM called a timeout a mere 42 seconds in the period to regroup.
ULM was able to get back with five straight points from Russell to bring the score to 46-41. Small answered back with his fourth three-pointer of the game.
A block by Texas State freshman Nate Martin led to a dunk from Small via a no-look pass from Asberry. Small came back with another dunk off a break to put the Bobcats up by double-digits yet again, 53-43, with 15:57 left in the game.
Martin hit a layup off an inside pass by Small to bring the score to 57-46 with 12:55 remaining. Texas State would go scoreless for the next 4:58 as the Warhawks cut away at the deficit, going on a 7-0 run in that time finished off by a three from Morency to reduce the gap 57-53.
Texas State junior forward Alonzo Sule ended the scoring drought with a pair of free throws, the team's first points from the charity stripe. The Bobcats finally made a field goal at the 6:16 mark off a baseline jumper from Harrell to bring the score to 61-53.
The 'Cats went on a 6-2 run to lead 67-58 with 2:24 remaining, yet the Warhawks were not out of it as Texas State went on to miss its next three shot attempts. Harrison canned his fifth three of the contest with Small's hand in his face, making it a two-score game, 67-61, with 0:48 on the clock.
ULM started playing a full-court press to foul intentionally. Sule went to the line but bricked the attempt, which led to a coast-to-coast layup by the Warhawks' senior guard Josh Nicholas. The layup cut the lead to four at 67-63 with 0:24 left in the game.
The Warhawks fouled Harrell to put him at the foul-line, and he missed his attempts. ULM rushed down the court to get the ball in Harrison's hot hands in hopes of cutting the Bobcats' lead to one, but he missed.
A pair of made free throws by Harrell ended the game 69-63, finishing the weekend sweep and giving the Bobcats their fifth straight Sun Belt victory.
Texas State shot 53.8% (28-52 FGS) from the field and, despite only taking two three-pointers in the second half, finished the game 60% (9-15 3FG) from deep. The Bobcats' woes from the charity stripe continued as they shot 40% (4-10 FT) for the game, missing several critical late-game free throws.
Small finished with a near-perfect day shooting as he led the team scoring 20 points (8-9 FGS, 4-4 3FG) with four assists and a game-high eight rebounds. Harrell followed with 11 points (4-8 FGS, 1-3 3FG) with four assists and four rebounds. Asberry only made one field goal in the second half but had eight points (3-8 FGS, 2-4 3FG) for the contest with four rebounds and a game-high five assists.
For ULM, it shot 43.1% (25-58 FGS) and 35.7% (10-28 3FG) in the game, but the free throw bug bit the team too as the Warhawks shot 42.9% (3-7 FT).
Despite the loss, the Warhawks won the turnover battle, forcing the Bobcats to give the ball up 10 times leading to 15 points. The Warhawks' bench showed up, scoring 27 of their points.
Harrison slowed down in the second half shooting 4-15 from the field and 2-8 from deep but still managed to score 10 points in the period. For the game, Harrison led both teams with 21 points, (8-23 FGS, 5-14 3FG) six rebounds and four assists. Morency followed up 18 points from the previous night with 16 points (6-9 FGS, 3-3 3FG, 1-5 FT) in this game, along with a team-high seven rebounds and four assists.
Texas State will head back to San Marcos to play its first home game since Dec. 15 in a rematch against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns at 4 p.m. on Jan. 29 in Strahan Arena.