There are two weeks left in the regular season.
That means Texas State, a team that is 4-10 following its loss last Saturday at Arkansas State, has four games to either maintain its current position in the Sun Belt Conference standings (eighth) or improve on it as the conference tournament approaches.
When comparing the remaining games for each team fighting for the final two spots in the Sun Belt, it’s easy to see that the Bobcats have the toughest trek.
There was no understating the importance of Thursday’s game between Texas State and South Alabama.
If the Bobcats won, they’d move back into eighth place and put themselves in prime position for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
If Texas State lost, it would tumble all the way to 10th place and switch spots with the Jaguars.
Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar had a simple message for his team during a recent pep talk.
They need to look deep inside themselves and realize they have the ability and potential to win these games. They have to have that mindset that this is the most important thing in their lives at this point in time and whenever they step on that court, that’s all that matters. That’s the focus winning teams have. These next two weeks are big. We need to be focused on these games.
Including tonight’s game with South Alabama, the Bobcats have six games left in the regular season. Texas State is currently in ninth place in the Sun Belt Conference. The Top 8 teams in the league make the conference tournament next month in New Orleans.
Texas State couldn’t pull off a big sweep tonight on the same night the university retired Jeff Foster’s number.
After the women won their fourth consecutive game, the men struggled down the stretch and saw a 12-point lead with 6:43 left evaporate en route to a crushing loss.
You can read our game story about the women beating UL-Lafayette by CLICKING HERE.
You can read our game story about the men falling to the Ragin’ Cajuns by CLICKING HERE.
Jeff Foster flashes the ‘Heart of Texas’ hand sign at the crowd during the halftime ceremony (Photo by Gerald Castillo).
Another doubleheader for Texas State
Another split result.
Early on in the afternoon, the Bobcat women took down Western Kentucky by a score of 72-63. It was Texas State’s second consecutive victory as Zenarae Antoine’s team improved to 5-3 in the Sun Belt Conference.
Then in the nightcap, the Bobcat men pushed the second-place Hilltoppers to the brink. Texas State and WKU were tied at 62-all with 1:22 left, but Danny Kaspar’s team couldn’t pull out a win. It was a 68-64 loss by the Bobcats and yet another setback in which they kept it close late.
Here is some of what Kaspar had to say after the loss.
Kaspar on the play of freshman point guard Naiel Smith — “I was really pleased with how well Naiel played in a tough atmosphere against a tough team. We asked a lot of him tonight with Phil (Hawkins) being sick and Naiel played 33 hard minutes for us.”
Kaspar on his team’s first half after which it led 30-27 at halftime — “We played a very good first half. We played just as good as we needed to do to be able to win at Western Kentucky. I thought we did a great job.”
Kaspar on what silver lining he is finding — “I’m not pleased with our record, but I have seen great improvement with our defense, teamwork and effort.”
Earlier today, I spoke with Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar about Saturday’s game at Western Kentucky. Here is some of what he had to say about the Hilltoppers.
Kaspar on WKU in general: “I’m very impressed with their team. They have a very good inside scorer in (George) Fant and a very prolific player in T.J. Price. They surround these two with quality role players, any of whom can come at you with a 20-point night.”
Kaspar on Price: “He is a well-rounded scorer and can shoot the three very well. He doesn’t mind taking it to the basket. Price is a strong guard with good size.”
Kaspar on what WKU likes to do defensively: “They like to run a full-court press that will speed up the game and test your ball handlers. They like to play man-to-man half-court defense as well.”
Kaspar on what it’s going to take his team to win: “We need to play very hard and very smart to have a chance to win this game. If we play like we played at Monroe, we can have success.”
Texas State sophomore forward Emani Gant slams home two of his career-high 21 points Saturday night against Troy.
Want a good idea of what happened today in Texas State’s Sun Belt Conference doubleheader versus Troy? Our game stories are a good place to start.
Here is Joe Vozzelli’s story from the women’s game — Bobcats win overtime thriller
Here is Tyler Mayforth’s story from the men’s game — Texas State dunks Troy, 73-65
Overall, it was a solid night for the both Bobcat teams and it turned out to be Texas State’s first basketball sweep as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
The Bobcats had the leading scorers in each game, as Erin Peoples led the women with 22 points and Emani Gant paved the way in the nightcap with a career-high 21 points. Peoples also played strong defense in an effort to slow down Troy’s Joanna Harden, the nation’s fourth-leading scorer.
With the win, the women improved to 4-3 in the Sun Belt. Danny Kaspar’s bunch is now 2-5 and won its first Division-I game at home in 2013-14.
Close game in the second half.
Texas State’s men fall cold from the field.
Opponent surges ahead. Bobcats can’t match.
Texas State loses.
Sound familiar? Well, it happened again Thursday night.
Spoke with Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar last night about the week of practice, Joel Wright and Saturday’s game with UT Arlington. Here are some of the excerpts.
Kaspar on the week of practice — “It’s been up and down. There is a lack of consistency in practice and that concerns me. I told the guys, ‘We need to decide whether we want to make something out of this season or not.’ Yesterday’s was better, so hopefully that was a step in the right direction.”
Kaspar on senior forward Joel Wright — “When Joel gets focused, he’s a talented played. A player like Joel can cause problems for opponents when he’s focused.”
Kaspar on UT Arlington — “Scott (Cross) has them running a totally different offense. It’s a fast-paced group. They don’t need a 30-second clock or even a 20-second clock. They really push the ball down the floor and it’s going to make us really have to play smart basketball.”
Kaspar on not winning a game at home versus a Division-I opponent — “We need to take care of and protect home court. We need to start winning some of these games for our fans and help our chances to get in the (Sun Belt Conference) Tournament.”
Kaspar on his team — “There is enough talent on this team where we can be a darkhorse, but they need to buy in and work hard. With how they played last Saturday, you’d think they bought in. They played very unselfish basketball and smart basketball. I’d like to see more of that.”
Players on Texas State’s bench celebrate a moment in a recent game (Photo by Gerald Castillo).
MONROE, La. — Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar didn’t have much to say to his team before it took the court Saturday afternoon at Louisiana-Monroe.
“I didn’t have a magic talk with them,” Kaspar said after his team’s resounding 61-36 win over the Warhawks. “I told them, ‘I’m tired of losing. I want it to stop. I hope you all feel the same way.’ They said, ‘Yes.’”