On the night of Jeff Foster's jersey retirement ceremony, the Bobcats found themselves with a comfortable 12 point lead with over eight minutes to play. Then slowly ULL made their comeback.
Until that point, the defense had been spectacular holding down the best guard in the Sun Belt Conference and future NBA player Elfird Payton to a mere 3 for 11 from the field. Texas State
appeared to be cruising toward a very impressive victory, led by Wes Davis and Joel Wright, who both played well offensively and defensively.
With just under 12 seconds to play and the Bobcats leading by two points, ULL drained a three to take the lead. With two timeouts left, the Bobcats raced up the floor to try to catch the Ragin' Cajuns off guard. Texas State had one last chance to attempt a game winner but ran into the high pressure defense of ULL. With still two timeouts left, the Bobcats were forced into a cross court pass that, after a struggle, resulted in a turnover to seal the victory for ULL.
"We can't let our immaturity get in the way of a victory" said Head Coach Kaspar about his team's inability to execute down the stretch.
Davis, the primary defender for Payton, had 14 points while Wright played cleanup picking up three blocks and scoring 17 points. There was a late Technical foul on Corey Stern for taunting which gave the Ragin' Cajuns two free throws and the possession, acting as a catalyst for the collapse of the Bobcats.
"This is the stuff that has held Texas State back for a while" Kaspar said about the technical foul.
The Bobcats shot much better from the field than ULL, 51% as opposed to 37.3%, and played much better defense picking up six blocks compared to 0 for the Cajuns. However, free throws were a huge factor in tonight's loss. The Bobcats shot a dismal 65% from the charity stripe while ULL shot 90.5%.
The Cajuns also dominated on the offensive glass 18-9 and subsequently second chance points 21- 14.
While the Bobcats are clearly growing in Coach Kaspars' system and beginning to look like a cohesive unit both defensively and offensively, they seem to lack the ability to execute in critical situations to put away games and keep the pressure on when they need it the most. The Bobcats seemed very dominant at times tonight against a very talented ULL team, but when the game was on the line there wasn't anyone who seemed to step up and take charge. A team with a new identity, under a new coach, must find their go to guy in the closing moments, if they are going to have any chance to be competitive in the Sunbelt Conference.
On Thursday the Bobcats will travel to Atlanta to try and hand the Georgia State Panthers their first loss in Sun Belt play. With the loss tonight the Bobcats fall to 7-16 overall and 3-7 in conference.
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The Bobcats seemingly had the game under control with a comfortable 12 point lead, but the Ragin Cajuns came chipping back to keep the fans at Strahan Coliseum on Saturday night at the very edge of their seats all the way to the end of regulation before defeating Texas State 67-66.