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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

Men’s basketball completes 21-point comeback win against Denver


Texas A&M Corpus Christi senior guard Myles Smith (2) dribbles while being defended by four Texas State players, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Strahan Arena. Texas State won the game 51 – 46.

In its first game of The Pioneer Challenge, Texas State men’s basketball (5-3) won its second straight game after erasing a 21-point deficit to defeat the University of Denver Pioneers (1-5) 70-68 on Dec. 19.

The first half was competitive early on, but the Bobcats allowed Denver to pull away midway through the period.

With the game tied at 7-7, the Pioneers went on an 8-0 run capped off by a jumper from junior guard Jase Townsend. The shot increased Denver’s lead to 15-7 with 12:25 left in the half

At the 11:11 mark, junior guard Mason Harrell made a three for Texas State’s first points in almost five minutes, but Denver’s junior forward Tristan Green immediately answered back with a three of his own, making the score 18-10.

Freshman forward Sam Hines Jr. scored seven points during a 15-5 run by Denver as the Pioneers continued to pull away, leading 30-15 with just over four minutes left in the half.

A jump shot late in the half by Townsend gave the Pioneers a 42-21 lead—their largest of the game. Texas State senior guard Shelby Adams scored a layup as time expired to bring the score to 42-23 heading into the break.

In the first half, the Pioneers shot an impressive 68.1% (15-22, 5-9 three-pointers). On the flip side, the Bobcats shot a lack-luster 34.7% (8-23, 2-5 three-pointers).

Denver’s strong first-half performance was due to their ability to score off of turnovers. The Pioneers scored 14 points off of 13 turnovers while Texas State only scored five points off of 11 turnovers.

The Bobcats started the second half with a 10-2 run, led by junior forward Alonzo Sule with six points, to cut into the Denver lead 44-33.

Starting at the 15:42 mark, junior guard Caleb Asberry started the comeback for Texas State, scoring nine straight points for the Bobcats then dishing an assist to senior forward Isiah Small to bring the score to 52-44 with 11:07 to go in the game.

With 7:14 left on the clock, the ‘Cats were able to tie the game up at 56-56 off a three-pointer by Small to cap off a 23-10 run. The Bobcats’ bench exploded in excitement following the shot.

Texas State eventually took the lead 61-58 after a three by Asberry; however, Denver refused to give up and retook the lead 66-63. With Texas State in desperate need of points, Asberry answered the call by hitting a three-pointer off a pass from Sule to tie the ball game 66-66 with 1:39 remaining.

After two Denver free throws tied the game 68-68, the Bobcats gave the ball to Harrell who pulled up from midrange for the go-ahead bucket and to take the lead 70-68 with 0:10 left in the contest. The Pioneers would miss their final two shots and Texas State would walk away with the win, completing the comeback.

For the game, Denver shot 50% (23-46, 6-16 three-pointers) from the field and 80% (16-20) on foul shots. Texas State shot 51% (25-49, 7-12 three-pointers) from the field and 72.2% (13-18) at the line.

The Pioneers forced 23 turnovers leading to 16 points while Texas State forced 18 turnovers leading to 23 points.

For Denver, Townsend finished with a team-high 22 points (7-16, 3-9 three-pointers) followed by Hines Jr. who scored 15 points (4-6).

For the Bobcats, Asberry finished with a career-high 28 points (10-15, 4-7 three-pointers), 22 of which came in the second half. Harrell scored 15 points (4-12, 2-3 three-pointers) and Sule had 10 points (5-6).

Texas State Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson thinks this win says a lot about his players but wants them to keep improving as conference play approaches.

“Adversity does not build character, it reveals it,” Johnson said. “Denver is a talented, well-coached, offensive team and Coach Billups had his guys ready from the tip. We got off to a slow start, but the guys got together at halftime and committed to playing one possession at a time as hard as they could. I am proud of the grit we showed. We got better today in every way but still have a ways to go.”

Texas State will look to extend its winning streak to three in the last non-conference game of the season when they take on Northern Arizona University at 2 p.m. on Dec. 21 in Denver, Colorado.

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