Bobcats beat the odds to qualify for postseason play

With an eight-game losing drought to begin Sun Belt play and only one returning starter, the Texas State women’s basketball team faced tough obstacles as they looked to qualify for postseason play.

The ‘Cats proved they were ready to fight, however, as they went 5-2 to finish the regular season and defeated the University of Louisiana- Monroe in a 59-53 road contest to take the 10th seed in the Sun Belt Championship Tournament on Thursday.

The Bobcats split the weekend against the Louisiana schools, beating ULM (3-26, 1-17) in the final few minutes of play and going toe-to-toe with No.4 Louisiana-Lafayette (17-12, 10-8) before falling 70-64 on Saturday.

Aside from the last-minute tournament qualification, the ULM battle made program history as senior guard Brooke Holle scored 14 points and surpassed the 1,000 point mark, becoming the 19th player in Texas State history to do so.

Both Holle twins came in clutch for the Bobcats. With two minutes to go, Brooke set up a four point-lead as she landed a jumper and subsequent free-throw, but the Warhawks answered with two free throws of their own to make it a two-point game.

As the clock wore down to eight seconds, Bailey Holle swung the momentum in the ‘Cats favor with a steal as Texas State sealed the win by knocking down their final four attempts from the charity stripe.

Antoine said that the twins’ and team’s calmness no matter the stakes of the game led to the ULM win and close contest with ULL.

“I think it came down to poise and composure,” Antoine said. “It got a little hairy there (and) Bailey had a huge steal. I know for sure that both twins had a good understanding of what needed to be done, they were a hard team to have postseason opportunities against, but I also believe most of their focus was more so on solidifying a win and getting better than it was the pressures of getting a position at the tournament, because if that was the case you wouldn’t have seen the team battle the way we did to go into a really tough Lafayette at home and take them all the way down to the wire.”

Despite taking a lead in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats fell short to Lafayette after failing to retake the lead in the final minutes of play.

Sophomore Da’Nasia Hood finished the game with 16 points, while sophomore center Jaeda Reed also scored in double-figures with 12 points.

With Texas State’s win against ULM, they are now in 10th place in the Sun Belt conference and have officially grabbed the final spot in the tournament to play third-seeded UT Arlington.

The Bobcats have come a long way since the start of Sun Belt play. It wasn’t until Feb 1 when the Bobcats won their first Sun Belt game, beating UTA 72-55 at Strahan Arena, and by a twist of fate they will play the Mavericks again on Wednesday to compete for quarterfinal qualification.

Following their win against UTA, the Bobcats continued to struggle as they were last in the conference and dropped their next two games against Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State. However, Texas State pulled together and was able to win four of their next five games, losing only to UTA as the Mavericks avenged their loss with a 69-49 victory.

After a crucial win over Georgia State on Feb. 29 that secured the final spot in conference, the Bobcats are entering the tournament as an underdog but have been given a second chance.

UTA enters the tournament as the third seed with the top-ranked scoring defense in the Sun Belt and the best assisting team in the conference.

Texas State currently ranks eighth in the conference in scoring offense.

UTA is hot off a seven-game win streak, including five by double digits, and holds an 11-3 home record as they prep for another game in their home court. Texas State is 4-10 on the road but are 3-2 in their most recent away games.

In their last matchup against UTA, Texas State was able to force 19 turnovers and register nine steals, but got off to a rough start as they only scored five points in the first quarter and the Mavs repeatedly went on runs of their own to stop the Bobcats’ momentum.

However, Texas State’s first conference win occurred at home against UTA after a strong performance from Hood, who scored a career-high 28 points in the matchup. Trailing by three going into the fourth, Texas State went on a 19-1 run to open the game and allow them to coast to their first Sun Belt victory.

Although Texas State are poised as underdogs, a season split between the two teams are sure to give both the ‘Cats and the Mavs confidence as they head into another face-off to advance in the tournament.

Antoine said that looking at their previous loss will help them to get a leg up as they look to defeat UTA again.

“Taking a look at our loss at their place has probably helped us out even more so outside of the win that we had at home,” Antoine said. “It’s really understanding the adjustments that they made to ensure their win and it’s important that were going to be able to counter that and be able to compete.”

 


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