It was a short turnaround for Texas State’s men’s basketball (10-11, 3-5 Sun Belt Conference) as only two days after suffering defeat to Marshall it hosted Louisiana-Lafayette (16-4, 6-2 Sun Belt Conference) Saturday afternoon for the second of three consecutive home games at Strahan Arena in San Marcos.
In front of a raucous home crowd, Texas State was defeated by the Ragin’ Cajuns 60-51 on the newly minted Jeff Foster Court.
In the press conference following the game head coach Terrence Johnson said the biggest issue his team is currently struggling with is believing.
“I just saw a group of guys out there in my opinion that hadn’t gotten over Thursday,” Johnson said. “It’s not many times that we carry that level of baggage. We have to play with a little bit more passion, a little bit more fight, we got to believe no matter who’s in the lineup. We were without our leader, and it showed.”
For the second straight game, Texas State was without its leading scorer, senior guard Mason Harrell. Harrell who is averaging 16.2 points per game this season, was missed not just from a scoring standpoint but also from a leadership one.
Louisiana-Lafayette jumped out to a 10-2 lead within the first five minutes of the game. Looking like it was prepared to be run out of the building coming out of a media timeout Texas State began to fight back.
The Bobcats went on a 13-6 run to make the score 16-15 with nine minutes left in the first half. Each time it seemed as if Louisiana-Lafayette was going to take a commanding lead Texas State responded to keep the score close.
It was a collective effort in the first half for Texas State as five different players scored and as a team the Bobcats shot 43% from the field and 33% from three. However, Texas State still found itself trailing 27-22 at halftime.
Texas State opened the second half outscoring Louisiana-Lafayette 8-3 to tie the game at 30-30 in the first five minutes. On its next possession, a mid-range jumper by senior guard Drue Drinnon gave the Bobcats its first lead of the game.
Texas State’s largest lead of the game came at the eight-minute mark after a layup by freshman forward Davion Sykes put the Bobcats up 40-37.
With the feeling of an upset beginning to loom Louisiana-Lafayette cranked up its level of urgency out of a media timeout forcing back-to-back turnovers sparking an 11-0 run to give itself a 48-40 lead with just under five minutes left in regulation.
Despite its efforts to string together one final comeback the deficient proved to be too much for Texas State to overcome.
“Credit to Coach Marlin and UL-Lafayette,” Johnson said. “They traveled yesterday and came in here today and did what they needed to do to come out victorious.”
Johnson was asked what he thought was the game’s deciding factor.
“They took advantage of our mistakes and that’s what good teams do.” Johnson said.
The lone bright spot in Texas State’s last two losses has been the emergence of freshman guard Jordan Mason.
Mason who scored a career-high ten points in Thursday’s loss against Marshall, set a new career-high Saturday with 19 points on 5-11 from the field and a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line.
“The more you put on him [Jordan Mason] the more he achieves,” Johnson said. “He’s starting to figure it out. It’s a process he’s learning, but he’s doing a really good job of staying humble, staying hungry, and he’s ready whenever his number is called.”
Now, on a two-game losing streak with a below 500 record Texas State finds itself in the midst of a season going south in a hurry. Johnson spoke of what his team must do going forward to turn this season around for the better.
“We need to figure out a way to bounce back, flush it and get back to trying to win the day.”
Texas State will conclude its three game homestand next Thursday against Georgia Southern.
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26 at Strahan Arena in San Marcos.