Bobcats claim sole possession of second place in final home games

Texas+State+senior+forward+Eric+Terry+celebrates+a+dunk+during+the+first+half+of+a+game+against+Georgia+Southern%2C+Thursday%2C+Feb.+20%2C+2020%2C+at+Strahan+Arena.

Kate Connors

Texas State senior forward Eric Terry celebrates a dunk during the first half of a game against Georgia Southern, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, at Strahan Arena.

Cade Andrews, Sports Reporter

The Texas State men’s basketball team (19-10, 12-6 Sun Belt) rose to second place in the Sun Belt as they defeated Georgia Southern 70-55 on Thursday and Georgia State 86-76 on Saturday for their last regular-season home games at Strahan Arena.

The Bobcats’ win against Georgia State broke the tie for second place in the Sun Belt Conference, giving the team sole possession of second place with just two games left in the regular season.

Before the game, seniors Nijal Pearson and Eric Terry were recognized on Senior Night for their final regular-season game in Strahan Arena.

Terry matched his career-high in scoring for his final home game, including a clutch three-pointer in the final two minutes of play. The senior forward has started in every game for two consecutive seasons for the ‘Cats and shot 69.3% from the field in 2018-19, putting him at No. 2 in the single-season record book.

Pearson has risen above the rest in Texas State program history. This season, Pearson hit 1,885 career points, giving him the title of all-time leading scorer for the Bobcats and No. 9 in Sun Belt scoring history. Pearson has now eclipsed 2,000 points and is the first Bobcat with three consecutive 500-point seasons.

To start the seniors’ final game, the ‘Cats came out the gate hot and jumped out to a quick 18-5 lead.

The Texas State offense clicked on all cylinders as they racked up 46 points throughout the first half, outscoring Georgia State 46-38.

Georgia State was able to tie the game with 3:27 left in the second half behind shooting from junior guard Kane Williams. The Bobcats were able to pull away to finish the game, however, with key buckets from both Terry and Pearson.

Terry finished with a career-high 20 points and four rebounds, while Pearson put up 18 points and grabbed nine boards.

Terry said his focus was not on senior recognition, but on Georgia State as a competitor.

“I wasn’t even thinking about Senior Day,” Terry said. “I was thinking about this game and playing possession by possession. I wasn’t too big in the moment because I was still laser-focused about Georgia State.”

Head oach Danny Kaspar said he was pleased with the two seniors’ level of play in their final home game.

“Eric Terry had a monster game,” Kaspar said. “I’m so happy for him. He’s been through some adversity this year but it’s just good to see him have a great final game as a senior. It’s a very nice feeling to see that happen.”

Despite the big win, Pearson said the team needs to stay focused for remaining games.

“We know if we take care of our business, everything will fall into place,” Pearson said. “One game at a time. We can’t worry about anyone else. Whatever happens anywhere, it’s none of our concern. We can only win the games in front of us.”

Before Saturday’s crucial victory, the Bobcats came out on top against Georgia Southern with a 70-55 win on Thursday.

The ‘Cats got out to a hot start, jumping to a 19-6 lead after the first 10 minutes of play and reaching up to a 22-point lead just before halftime.

The Bobcats continued their high level of play in the second half and maintained a double-digit lead throughout the half to take the win.

Kaspar said that the team performed better in their final matchup against the Panthers.

“We’re playing harder and smarter and rebounding the ball better than the first time we played,” Kaspar said.

Pearson led the Bobcats with 20 points on 7-of-13 from the field. Junior guard Marlin Davis stepped up for injured sophomore guard Mason Harrell and scored 16 points, including 3-of-4 from the three-point range.

Davis finished the game shooting 6-of-8 from the floor and said he developed confidence by practicing consistently before the game.

“Just repetition in practice, a lot of reps this week and shots by myself (prepared me),” Davis said. “That’s where confidence is built.”

The Bobcats will look to stay hot and continue their win streak on the road against disputed rivals University of Texas-Arlington on Friday. The last time these two teams met, the Bobcats fell short by two points on a potential buzzer-beating three that bounced off the back iron of the rim. The game will be broadcasted on the nationally-televised ESPN2 channel for the first time this season.


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