This school year’s top sports moments: No. 8 – Men’s basketball defeats Appalachian State in final game

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Editor’s Note: Over the next two weeks, The University Star’s sports staff will break down its Top 10 moments in Texas State sports from this past school year.

Students and fans packed Strahan Coliseum in all white for a matchup against Appalachian State on March 11, bringing in the second-largest crowd in Strahan’s history (6,308). The Bobcats ran through the Mountaineers in a dominant fashion winning 85-68 in a game that would have punched their ticket to New Orleans for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinals.

From the opening tip, the Bobcats fed off the crowd’s energy and jumped out to a commanding 10-3 lead and never looked back. The offense was clicking on all cylinders throughout the night as the Bobcats shot 60% from the field in the half.

Junior forward Isiah Small had himself a night with a career-high 23 points on 9 of 11 shooting. Senior guard Nijal Pearson also went out with a bang with 23 points in what turned out to be his final collegiate performance.

A Texas State basketball player holds up three fingers after making a shot in a game.
Texas State junior Isiah Small celebrates after hitting a three-pointer in a game against Appalachian State during the Sun Belt Conference quarterfinals, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at Strahan Coliseum. (Kate Conners)

After a 14-point halftime lead, the Bobcats kept their foot on the gas and played a great second half of basketball on both sides of the floor. Texas State’s scrappy defense and on-ball pressure forced the Mountaineers to turn the ball over 18 times. The Bobcats also continued their efficiency, shooting 58% in the second half.

Texas State outplayed Appalachian State in nearly every way offensively. The Bobcats shot better from the field (59.6% to 43.5%), three-point land (33.3% to 20%) and the foul line (81.3% to 71.4%).

A Texas State basketball player jumps in the air to shoot as an Appalachian State player jumps to attempt a block.
Texas State senior guard Nijal Pearson attempts a three-pointer over Appalachian State senior guard O’Showen Williams during a Sun Belt Conference quarterfinals matchup, Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at Strahan Coliseum. (Kate Connors)

With this impressive offensive performance, the team was looking arguably the best they did all season long. Head Coach Danny Kaspar expressed he had high hopes for the team if they were able to compete in the conference semifinals.

“I’ve never felt more confident about a team winning this thing than I do with these guys,” Kaspar said.

The game was one of the last sporting events before the COVID-19 pandemic took over. In fact, during the game, news broke that the NBA had suspended their season along with other multiple NCAA conference tournaments.

On March 12, the Sun Belt officially decided to cancel the tournament due to concerns over the virus, ending the season for the Bobcats.

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