Texas State did just about everything in its power Thursday night to beat UT-Arlington.
When loose balls hit the hardwood during the 73-72 overtime loss to the Mavericks, the Bobcats fought for each one. Down the stretch, Texas State junior guard Kaylan Martin and freshman guard Erin Peoples dove on the floor to give Zenarae Antoine’s team valuable possessions.
“Dang it,” Antoine said. “We hustled. We took charges. We scrapped for 50-50 balls. Sometimes it’s not enough.”
If the Bobcats (8-14, 2-11 WAC) needed a spark, senior guard Diamond Ford was there to give them one. From the moment when UTA ended a 12-1 run to give itself a 49-48 edge until Texas State took a five-point lead (62-57) with 5:48 remaining in the second half, Ford scored 12 of her team’s 14 points.
“In the back of my mind, I was thinking, ‘We have to score,’ because the game was getting close,” said Ford, who finished with a game-high 26 points. “I was in a good rhythm.”
Ford — and freshman guard Ayriel Anderson, for that matter — gave the Bobcats life in overtime. After the Mavericks jumped ahead 71-68, Ford knocked down a fast-break jumper at the top of the key and on Texas State’s next possession, Anderson hit a high-arcing layup between two defenders to put Antoine’s team up 72-71.
“I just saw an opening,” Anderson said. “So I said, ‘Let me take it and give my team a chance to get up.’”
What else went through Anderson’s mind as the ball fell through the net with 28 seconds left?
“I knew they had enough time to get a shot off — and to actually execute a possession,” Anderson said.
Even though the Bobcats’ perimeter defense forced UTA (4-18, 2-10) to use its final timeout during the ensuing sequence, they couldn’t guard the key after the break.
Texas State only waved the red cape as Maverick guard Chautandra Williams cut through the lane to win the game with UTA’s 44th point in the paint. Williams also converted a layup, one of the Mavericks’ 17 in the game, to send the game to overtime.
What also killed the Bobcats’ chances against UTA — like it has in many of their losses — was a failure to convert from the free-throw line. Texas State toed the charity stripe 22 times, but only made 12 of those attempts (54.5 percent).
“You feel like you’ve done everything within your power to help your team win, you’re right there and come up short,” Antoine said. “Like any one of us, when you’re in college or high school and you take a test that you prepared for and you think, ‘Oh, I nailed it,’ and you find out that you got a C. It’s a huge let down.”
On Saturday, the Bobcats hope to put it all together in a game with Louisiana Tech.