In the exact same match-up as last year’s first round, the No. 4 seed Texas State Bobcats and No. 5 seed Southeastern Louisiana Lions were at it again in 2011. However, history would not repeat itself on Wednesday, as this dogfight would go to the Bobcats in a 72-68 win.
The Lions knocked off the Bobcats last year in overtime after overcoming a 17-point deficit, and the ‘Cats did not forget about that heartbreaker whatsoever. In fact, Senior Cameron Johnson said after the game that last year’s loss was vividly in the back of his and his teammates’ minds. Southeastern, on the other hand, probably still had a sour taste in its mouth from a couple weeks ago when they went into San Marcos and gave up a double-digit lead and lost to Texas State.
So both teams had fuel added to their fire.
Frankly though, none of it mattered when that first whistle was blown at the Merrell Center on Wednesday. Both teams knew coming in that a win would not come easy, and every little mistake would be magnified because there is no room for error. You lose, you pack it up and head back home.
Coming out of a 33-28 halftime lead, I am sure the Lions did not expect Senior Texas State Point Guard Ryan White to asbolutely take over the game. Ready or not, there he came. White scored nine of his team’s first 14 points to open up the half and the game was tied by the 15:00 mark. The teams went back and forth all the way up to the final 60 seconds of the game.
In winning time, SELA had the basketball with 30 seconds left of the clock, down by two points. Brandon Fortenberry dribbled the ball into the paint and tried to make a pass down to his seemingly open big man David Ndoumba. White got a hand on the pass and a SELA player bobbled the ball out of bounds. Tony Bishop was fouled on the ensuing inbound, and he stepped up to the line and iced the game. Texas State shot a terrific 21-24 from the free throw line, a stat that was all but impossible in the beginning of the season. My, how their free throw shooting has come around.
Seniors Bishop, Johnson and White carried their Bobcat team, combining for 58 of their team’s 72 total points (White had 26 and Bishop had 18). Talk about senior leadership. The ‘Cats will advance to the semi-finals for the first time since 2002. They will face No. 1 seeded McNeese State tomorrow at 8:30 PM after the conclusion of the UTSA/Sam Houston contest. KTSW will have pregame coverage starting at 8:15 on 89.9 FM and ktsw.net.
Robert Fisher, KTSW Sports
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