Women’s basketball continues losing streak despite strong performances

Senior Brooke Holle jumps and shoots the ball over Alcorn State Dec. 30 at Strahan Arena. Holle reached the ninth-place all-time spot in program history for three-pointers against Louisiana on Saturday. Photo by Kate Connors.

Senior Brooke Holle jumps and shoots the ball over Alcorn State Dec. 30 at Strahan Arena. Holle reached the ninth-place all-time spot in program history for three-pointers against Louisiana on Saturday. Photo by Kate Connors.

Claire Partain

After leading by as many as 18 points in the third period, Texas State women’s basketball fell just short of their first conference win in a 73-67 loss to the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday afternoon at Strahan Arena.

The Bobcats were just six points away from slashing their five-game losing streak, instead falling to an 0-6 conference record and 7-10 overall record.

Despite the loss, the first half was dominated by Texas State. Senior forward Bailey Holle landed her first of three three-pointers in the first few minutes of play, kicking off a period with several scoring runs by the Bobcats, including a career-high 6-6 run by freshman forward Chelsea Johnson to put the ‘Cats at a 23-16 lead with just over six minutes left in the half. Johnson went on to put up 14 points for Texas State, three more than her previous career record against the University of Texas-Permian Basin in November.

Johnson said she kept her cool and took the skills she worked on in practice to go on her career-high run.

“I didn’t really want to think about it,” Johnson said. “I took my time; I was patient, so that’s why I was making it. I just took what we worked on in practice and applied it to the game.”

The ‘Cats’ strong defense helped them stay calm and rack up points in the first half, according to Bailey.

“We were getting stops, which when we’re good on defense we tend to play more relaxed on offense.” Bailey said. “So we were getting stops, and then our offense was just coming naturally and that’s when we play our best.”

The ‘Cats kept the lead from 5:45 in the first period to 6:27 in the fourth, leading by as much as 18 until the Cajuns slowly gained momentum and tied up the match. In the final two minutes of play, two free throws by senior guard Brooke Holle and a shot by sophomore guard Kennedy Taylor were not enough for them to catch up as they fell 73-67.

Bailey said that the team struggled when the Ragin’ Cajuns began to gain momentum.

“When they got a few steals, it made us frantic and then it was taking time off the clock for us to get into offense,” Bailey said. “It was more so not what they did, we needed to get stops and take care of the ball.”

In addition to Johnson’s high scoring, the game made program history for Brooke, who surpassed Julie Brooks (2000-04) for the ninth-place spot in three-pointers in program history. Brooke connected on two threes in the game and paced the team with a double-double in scoring (15) and rebounds (11). Bailey brought in three three-pointers of her own and led the ‘Cats with five assists, while sophomore forward Da’Nasia Hood went on a 6-0 run alongside Johnson in the first half and landed 12 total points for the Bobcats.

As a team, Texas State outscored Louisiana 17-12 in the first quarter and 19-9 in the second before falling 29-17 and 23-14 in the final two periods.

Head coach Zenarae Antoine said that despite the scoreboard, the team’s strong performance in the first half shows some improvement as they go on a two-game road trip and seek a conference win.

“All coaches like to say they don’t believe in silver linings, (but) in this case I do appreciate that I do see some improvement,” Antoine said. “That’s really important moving forward because now we have to go on the road.”

The Bobcats have had the lead at the half for four consecutive conference games but are unable to clinch a strong finish, something that Antoine recognizes as their weakness. Antoine said that preparing for the chaos and stress of late-game Sun Belt play in practice will help the team get over the hump.

“Creating that environment even more so, tenfold honestly, in practice is what’s going to get us to a place where we’re going to be able to play with some calm,” Antoine said. “Once we start kicking butt in that area in practice, I’ll be extremely confident that this team is ready to roll in these situations.”

Texas State’s next opponent, Troy, is a tough team to beat after a series of losses. The Trojans are 5-1 in conference off of a two-game win streak but suffered the same outcome as the Bobcats against Louisiana in a 79-73 loss Jan. 11. Troy shot just 37% against the Cajuns and trailed at the half, while Texas State left the first half with a 15-point lead. The Bobcats will conclude their road trip against South Alabama, who currently sit at fourth in the Sun Belt off a three-game win streak but also lost to the Cajuns.

If the Bobcats can finish how they start these high-stakes Sun Belt games, they could turn their season around and see a few conference wins under their belt, something Antoine said will happen soon.

“We are going to get there, I just know it,” Antoine said. “This team is just way too talented in a lot of different areas. We’ve got two good seniors on this team, we’ve got a youth that I think is growing and getting better and so I’ve got to believe that we’re going to turn the corner.”

Next up, the ‘Cats will take the road to take on Troy at 6 p.m. on Thursday and South Alabama at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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