College Basketball: Slow start dooms Bobcat men
Texas State's home woes continued Saturday afternoon.
A strong second half wasn't enough to overcome the first 20 minutes of the 73-62 loss to Texas-San Antonio, which Bobcat head coach Doug Davalos called, "...the worst half of basketball I've ever seen" and "...an epidemic of bad play." It was Texas State's seventh consecutive setback inside Strahan Coliseum.
If the Bobcats were ready for the rivalry game with the Roadrunners, they sure didn't show it until after halftime. Texas State looked pathetic in the first half in front of the largest home crowd of the season.
UTSA blistered the Bobcats up and down the court, leaving Davalos expressionless on the bench. Out of 16 chances for an offensive rebound, Texas State only grabbed one and was outscored 15-0 after the Roadrunners nabbed their own misses.
Add in that the Bobcats shot 20 percent from behind the arc (3-of-15) and turned the ball over five times (which UTSA converted into 11 points), it was a recipe for disaster. Texas State only scored 20 points in the first half, which was the second-lowest total this season (19 against San Jose State in the Western Athletic Conference opener).
"They just went after us and whipped us," Davalos said. "We didn't match their intensity."
Maybe they were tired or being embarrassed or Davalos fired them up at halftime, but the Bobcats turned it around.
Texas State opened the second half on a 12-3 run and narrowed the Roadrunners' lead to as few as eight with 6:25 remaining. Once junior guard Phil Hawkins canned a step-back 3-pointer to bring the Bobcats within 59-51, the crowd erupted.
One of the main cogs in Texas State's surge in the second half was senior forward Matt Staff. Even though Staff hasn't peformed well in conference play, he carried the Bobcats after halftime with 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Staff finished the game with team highs of 18 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.
"Matt hit some shots, became a better rebounder and probably a better defender," Davalos said. "A lot of guys struggle when their shot isn't going down. When his shot went down, it made him better everywhere else."
UTSA slightly pulled away after Texas State closed the lead, but the hosts had a chance to get the crowd back into it. Staff missed a 3-pointer, then got the ball back off a pass from junior forward Joel Wright (13 points, six rebounds) and missed a layup and an ensuing putback.
"We realistically could have come back from 26 if we didn't turn it over on 2-on-1 breaks, make a couple layups and make some free throws," Davalos said. "I told my guys, 'It's hard to come back from 26.' If the game was 14 or 12, I believe we would have come back."
The Bobcats fell to 3-11 in the WAC, while the Roadrunners improved to 2-12. It was the third consecutive year where Texas State and UTSA each won on the road.