Texas State (9-10 overall, 6-8 Sun Belt) played its first game in nearly two weeks and dominated on the road against the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks (3-18 overall, 1-14 Sun Belt), 85-62 in the first game of its final regular-season series.
The Maroon and Gold showed rust offensively early until junior guard Kennedy Taylor scored the first points of the game with a layup with 8:08 left in the first quarter. Offensive struggles continued for both teams, with Texas State holding a 7-2 edge midway through the first quarter.
Running a 2-3 zone, the Bobcats were daring ULM to take and make shots from the perimeter. ULM played stubbornly, trying to attack the zone by attacking the paint yet they continued to miss.
While the Warhawks offense continued to lag, Texas State picked up its play with a Taylor-made three-pointer to increase the lead to 10-2 with 3:01 remaining in the first quarter. ULM sophomore guard Gara Beth Self attempted and made the team’s first three-pointer of the game, trimming the lead to 10-5.
Field goals by junior forward Ja’Kayla Bowie and sophomore forward Lauryn Thompson increased the lead to 15-5 late in the quarter. The Maroon and Gold transitioned to man-to-man defense, showing a new look and a change of pace to try and catch ULM off guard. Self countered with another three-point make, but Thompson hit a three close the quarter with an 18-8 Texas State lead.
The Bobcats connected on their last four shots of the first quarter and ended up shooting 53.8% (7-13 FG) while holding Louisiana-Monroe to 23% (3-13 FG) while forcing five turnovers. Taylor and Thompson led Texas State with five points each, while Self scored all eight of ULM’s points.
The consistency on both ends of the floor continued for the Maroon and Gold in the second quarter, starting on offense with a made three-pointer by junior guard Tianna Eaton and another layup by Thompson increasing the lead to 23-8 with 8:48 remaining in the second quarter.
Switching back to a 2-3 zone, the defense was smothering ULM, not allowing a point for the first four minutes of the second quarter. Not a single point was scored by either side in almost three minutes until ULM sophomore guard Linda Van Schaik was fouled on an attempted three-pointer with 5:50 left. She knocked down all three free-throws, which were the first ULM points not made by Self.
The pace of the game changed after that foul, with both teams playing more aggressively and earning trips to the free-throw line — a combined 15 free throws taken in the second quarter. A made three-pointer by Van Schaik trimmed Texas State’s lead to 10, 31-21, with 2:18 remaining.
The Bobcats pushed back with a 9-2 run in the last 1:58, capped off by made jump shot by Bowie with 0:14 left to send Texas State into halftime with a 40-23 lead. In that run, Taylor dished out her 100th assist of the year via a three-pointer by graduate guard/forward Gabby Standifer. Taylor has reached this milestone in each of her three seasons as a Bobcat.
Texas State shot 51.9% (14-27 FG, 5-9 3FG) in the first half while hitting all seven free-throw attempts. Thompson led the team in scoring with 13 points (5-8 FG, 2-2 FT) while hauling in six rebounds. Taylor was not too far behind, scoring nine points (3-6 FG, 1-2 3FG, 2-2 FT) while handing out two assists. The Sun Belt’s leading scorer, junior forward Da’Nasia Hood, was held scoreless in the first half due to foul trouble. Hood played nine minutes while missing both of her shot attempts.
The Warhawks continued to struggle from the floor, shooting 27.3% (6-22 FG, 3-6 3PT) from the field, yet they went 8-9 from the free-throw line. Self, while not scoring a point in the second quarter, still led the team with eight points (3-4 FG, 2-2 3FG). Van Schaik and junior guard Kierra Brimzy followed behind with six points each.
The second half started with Texas State continuing to play effective basketball. Freshman guard Sierra Dickson knocked down her first three-pointer of the season to extend the lead 45-25 with 7:48 left in the third quarter. The Bobcats went on a mild scoring drought in the middle of the quarter as they did not score for almost three minutes until a forced turnover led to a Hood layup for her first points of the night.
Hood remained aggressive, getting fouled and going to the line on the team’s next offensive possession. Sophomore forward Chelsea Johnson was able to join in on the attack, scoring back-to-back layups, with her second leading to an and-one. Johnson knocked down the free-throw, giving Texas State a 23-point lead.
In the next offensive possession after a ULM layup, Standifer knocked down her third three-pointer of the night to increase the lead to 61-37, a score that would stand until the end of the third quarter.
Hood, who had a relatively quiet night by her standards, made an impact on the game in the fourth quarter as she scored eight of her 12 total points in the quarter to cap off an all-around team performance for the Maroon and Gold.
The final buzzer sounded with the Bobcats winning 85-62. The victory was the Bobcats' second consecutive win along with their largest win of the season.
For the game, five Bobcats scored in double figures. The effort was led by Thompson, who scored all 13 of her points (5-10 FG, 2-2 FT) in the first half. Hood and Bowie both finished with 12 points, while Taylor and Standifer had 11 each. The Bobcats shot 52.8% (28-53 FGS, 8-16 3PTS) while giving up 10 turnovers.
Defensively, they forced 21 ULM turnovers leading to 20 points and held the Warhawks to 40.4% (19-47 FGS, 9-18 3PTS). ULM’s leading scorer was Self, who finished with 16 points (6-10 FG, 4-6 3FG).
The second game of this series will be held at 4 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, Louisiana, and will be streamed on ESPN+.