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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Key seniors graduate, women’s basketball looks forward to next season

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Texas State graduate guard Taelour Pruitt (2) shoots a floater layup against Troy University, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at Strahan Arena. 

This 2022-23 women’s basketball season, where Texas State concluded its campaign atop the Sun Belt Conference for the first time in 15 years with an overall record of 23-10 and 13-5 in the conference, marks the final season for seven seniors on the roster.
Graduate guard Kennedy Taylor, along with guard Ja’Kayla Bowie, forward Da’Nasia Hood and center Jaeda Reed polished out all five years together since joining the team as freshmen in 2018.
Taylor cherishes the bond she’s built with her teammates over the past five years and said it is special to finish alongside each other.
“I’ve seen each and every one of them grow into great young women in different areas of their lives,” Taylor said. “It was just amazing to go out there and knowing that we started with each other and now we’re finishing it with each other and doing what we came here to do.”
Upon the departure of a large portion of the team, junior guard Sierra Dickson said she feels ready and fully prepared to step into a larger role as her senior year swings around next season.
“They’ve left off such a great platform for us and such a great example of what leadership and hard work looks like,” Dickson said. “As [an underclassman] I’ve got to watch them lead and watch them take our program to a championship… I think we have the tools that we need to take over that leadership role.”
Head coach Zenerae Antoine now looks ahead to the offseason and figuring out ways to bring the team back to contention for next year.
“The most important thing is I need to level my players and get us in a positive position, and right now for us that’s recruiting,” Antoine said. “We really need to get after it recruiting-wise and tie up some loose ends with finishing out our roster so we can get started on that new crop of Bobcats to be a contender and be a part of the conversation next year.”
This season marked the first time Texas State led the Sun Belt Conference regular season standings. The last time the Bobcats were crowned regular season champions was in 2008 while playing in the Southland Conference.
Antoine, who is the 2022-2023 Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, stressed the importance of remaining level-headed through adversities over a long season.
“The philosophy this year was to take each game at face value and so we never looked ahead,” Antoine said. “Ultimately that was going to be really important regardless of injury, illness, wins, losses, whatever that might be.”
The Sun Belt Conference tournament saw Texas State reach the championship game with victories over Appalachian State and Southern Miss in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
The Bobcats led a five-game winning streak heading into the championship game before being defeated by James Madison University 81-51.
The 2022-2023 season also marks the first championship appearance for Texas State since 2018, when the team finished second to the University of Arkansas Little Rock in both the regular season standings and conference championship.
After leading the conference in wins, the Bobcats also represented the Sun Belt Conference in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament, where they suffered a first-round exit loss to Stephen F. Austin University.
“There was a lot of success from this season across the board, whether it be records broken, lineup changes due to adversities, and finding a way to win,” Antoine said. “There’s so many positives within this particular year that there’s no way you can’t say that this team didn’t find success and that they didn’t persevere through stressors.”
Texas State was ranked fifth in the preseason coaches poll which left the team feeling overlooked and with something to prove this season.
Dickson said the most important thing is finishing the season strong, regardless of where the preseason polls project the team.
“I think that does give us a little bit of extra motivation, but at the end of the day it just comes down to us worrying about each specific game and getting better,” Dickson said. “What really matters is you win each game; take it game-by-game regardless of what coaches poll thinks.”
Taylor said that winning the Sun Belt Conference was one of this season’s more significant achievements, considering all the hard work from the beginning of the season.
“It was amazing celebrating that with my team,” Taylor said. “It feels amazing knowing that all of the hard work that we’ve put in throughout this whole season you know, really paid off.”

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