The Texas State Bobcats won their first round game on Wednesday in this year's SLC Men's Basketball Tournament, then fell to McNeese State in the Semifinals on Thursday, 91-83. McNeese State and Texas State had been battling each other down the stretch of the regular season for the Conference’s top spot, but the Bobcats fell off of the wagon in their last two games. Thus, the crown went to the Cowboys.
As for Thursday night’s matchup, with McNeese as the top seeded team and Texas State as the No. 4 seed, the Cowboys looked every bit like a number one seed as one would expect. The game was a bit of a seesaw affair early on, yet it was everything but unstable throughout the remainder of the contest. The game plan for Texas State at first seemed to be that of dumping the ball down low and letting senior forwards Tony Bishop and Cameron Johnson go to work. In fact, Bishop and Johnson combined for 21 of their team’s first 26 points. Johnson’s eleven was a product of shooting 2-for-9 from the field, but he was 7-of-9 from the line.
At intermission, the Bobcats went into the locker room down 37-29. It was knotted at 28 just a couple of minutes before the half, but the Cowboys went on a run.
Coming out of the break, Texas State knew that they just simply had to make the easy shots they didn’t make in the first half if they were going to win. Well, this simple game plan was not executed. The ‘Cats continually missed point-blank shots and open three pointers,and that caught up with them in a hurry.
With that said, the second half never really belonged to the Bobcats. The Cowboys kept getting out in transition and they kept making good decisions. Just to put it in perspective, McNeese State ran up-and-down the court time-and-time again, and only had six turnovers at the final buzzer. Six turnovers that were overshadowed by a whopping 19 assists.
The Cowboys’ lead would eventually grow to as much as 20 points because of the Bobcats’ inability to execute on the offensive end, and trouble stopping lay-ups on defense. Speaking of non-execution, Bishop did not touch the basketball for eight minutes at that time. Instead, the Bobcats went to a perimeter-oriented offense and stopped giving Bishop and Johnson the touches that had them competing in the game early. This new offensive mindset put the ‘Cats on a fast track back to San Marcos with a loss.
So the five seniors, Bishop, Johnson, White, J.B. Conley and Uriel Segura end their 2011 Campaign with an even 16-16 record and a discouraging final memory for losing as convincingly as they did. However, these guys did a complete 180 when conference play came around, and they righted the ship that even gave them a chance to win the regular season title. These guys have nothing to be ashamed of, especially White and Johnson who came into the program as freshmen when the team had only won nine games in the previous season. They have steered this program in the right direction and they will be greatly missed.
So the long offseason begins. The endless recruiting and workouts begin now to turn this team into a legitimate contender in the Western Athletic Conference come 2012. New leaders will emerge and the cycle will run its course until this time next year when they journey for that illusive college basketball championship.
Robert Fisher, KTSW Assistant Sports Director
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