Texas State loses at the buzzer to in-state rival UTA

A+Texas+State+basketball+player+reacts+after+missing+a+potential+game-winning+shot.

Jaden Edison

Texas State senior guard Nijal Pearson reacts after missing a potential game-winning three-pointer vs. UTA, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

Dedrick Johnson

In front of a packed crowd Saturday evening, the Bobcats snapped their four-game win streak against in-state rival the University of Texas at Arlington with a 64-62 loss at the buzzer in Strahan Arena.

The team moved to 12-9 on the season and 5-5 in the Sun Belt.

Texas State was able to make a couple of key runs, including an impressive 11-2 run to start the game off. UTA’s aggressive style of play led them back in the game several times after being down throughout the course of the game.

UTA threw a 1-1-3 zone look at Texas State for most of the game, forcing the Bobcat offense to go cold in the second half.

With about 5 minutes left to go in the second half, UTA slowly pulled away until they reached a game-high 60-51 lead. However, a series of far-fetched shot opportunities and quick gameplay led the ‘Cats to a quick 9-2 run, including a four-point play by Nijal Pearson.

With just a two-point deficit, each team landed two free throws and the Bobcats got one last look with the ball on their side in the final six seconds of play. A pass inbounds to senior forward Eric Terry set up the last-second shot for senior guard Nijal Pearson, but the ball bounced off of the rim and UTA took the 64-62 win.

Just one game after Pearson became the program’s all-time leading scorer, the Bobcats wanted a win against their rivals, according to Head Coach Danny Kaspar. Before the game, Pearson was recognized as the all-time leading scorer; seconds after the game, he was seen signing autographs for the seventh and eighth graders of Owen Goodnight Middle School.

“I really wish we could’ve won this game,” Kaspar said. “It would’ve put the punctuation mark on Nijal’s accomplishments.”

Pearson led the team on the day with a game-high 26 points, shooting 8-16 from the field. As time ran out, Pearson was unable to get the final potential game-winning three-pointer from the left wing in the last second of play.

Pearson said that the high-stakes shot was disappointing because he had the opportunity the ability to land it.

“That play hurt my heart,” Pearson said. “I got the look I wanted; I take that shot every day of the week.”

The Bobcats shot 42% from the field and 31% (5-16) from behind the arc on the evening.

Junior forward Isiah Small recorded a double-double with 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds, but said he was unhappy with his performance.

“Honestly I played terrible and we could’ve won this game if I played better defense,” Small said. “This game is on me.”

Kaspar said that the team is disappointed with themselves after a season-high crowd turnout but have to move on to future games.

“We’re down because we had a good crowd out there and we want our fans to be happy,” Kaspar said. “We have to pick ourselves up moving forward.”

After this heartbreaking loss, Pearson said that the locker room is fine and must remember that this is a long season.

“The goal is to be where we want to be in March,” Pearson said. “In March, we want to be the best team we can be.”

The Bobcats have 10 more conference games to go on the year and will look to turn things around Thursday at home as they take on the University of Louisiana-Monroe.

Texas State last saw ULM less than two weeks ago in a road match, taking a slim 64-63 win Jan. 16. Pearson reached his all-time record in the ULM game and dropped a game-high 23 points, clinching the win with the team’s final four points to edge them over the Warhawks.

Despite the win, the Bobcats played tight with ULM, trailing for most of the first half. Texas State dominated in fast-break play (11-0) and steals (6-0), also out-rebounding the Warhawks (32-31). The ‘Cats will need to up their scoring accuracy against the long-range play of ULM, but they have it made on the stat board, leading in nearly every category but three-point percentage and assists per game.

Texas State will take on the ULM Warhawks at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Strahan Arena.


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