One of the few sports to get some closure just before the coronavirus pandemic was Texas State women’s basketball, wrapping up their season 50-74 to No. 3 UT Arlington in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament Tuesday, March 10.
The Bobcats finished the season 13-17 overall and had a 6-12 record in the Sun Belt. They a solid start to the season with a 6-2 record. However, things went downhill as Texas State lost their first eight conference games, putting them at one point in the bottom of the conference.
Head Coach Zenarae Antoine said it’s important to stay motivated from a coaching perspective no matter what the circumstances.
“I’m still coaching these kids hard,” Antoine said. “However, I’m still coaching positively which is really important especially when you have a season with a lot of use and inexperience.”
Texas State had a young team this season with only two senior players, twins Brooke and Bailey Holle. Brooke, the only returning starter, was the second-leading scorer on the team with an average of 10.2 points per game and now ranks ninth all-time in the program after landing 57 threes for her senior season. Bailey sank 36 threes of her own and reached the second-highest assists for the team this season.
Antoine said the team was able to take away a lot under the leadership of the Holle twins.
“I feel like the team realized the value that needs to placed in each and every practice,” Antoine said. “Our younger players were thankful for Brooke and Bailey. They learned from them and saw what they needed to bring to the table.”
The eight-game drought finally ended for the Bobcats as they beat UTA at home to turn the tables for the season.
Antoine said the win, which was their first conference victory of the season, stuck out amongst the rest for multiple reasons.
“The game where I felt the most joy was the game against UTA at home,” Antoine said. “That was that game that broke the losing streak. It was also the breast cancer awareness game and it was nice for our seniors, Brooke and Bailey to go out with a win against a rival. And to add to all that, it was my birthday weekend.”
Antoine said the team made some adjustments throughout the season regarding practices. As the season went by, Texas State would do situational practices to get the team ready for any scenario in a game, which seemed to pay off as they won six of their final 10 regular season games and qualified for postseason as the Sun Belt’s 10th seed.
Antoine said that the situationals were the extra push they needed to handle the stressful final minutes and play and turn around their season.
“I really feel like it was beneficial for all of them,” Antoine said. “The entire team spoke to how much they really felt it helped them toward the end. As you can tell the finish was much better than the start was. We closed out games a lot better.”
The Bobcats are still susceptible to the wide-ranging restrictions due to the spread of COVID-19. As the Bobcats move into the offseason, the team is working to keep everything as normal as possible with Zoom communication and at-home workouts, Antoine said.
“We’re going to set aside some time that will be dedicated for strength or conditioning and basketball workouts,” Antoine said. “I know some outdoor courts may be closed, so we may just have to assign workouts to be done in a driveway or parking lot. We have a lot of drills set up for that.”
Antoine also said that the team will be looking to add some transfers in the offseason. Like every other sport at Texas State, the women’s basketball team will play it by ear as they continue to adjust to one of the biggest changes in sports and national history.
The University Star’s COVID-19 coverage can be found here.