Sweet success: UTSA rallies to knock off No. 7 Texas State

Matt King had two hits and drove in three runs and had some strong defensive plays at shortstop in UTSA's 14-8 victory over Texas State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Freshman Matt King had two hits, drove in three runs and made some strong defensive plays at shortstop in UTSA’s 14-8 victory over Texas State. – Photo by Joe Alexander

After five innings in Tuesday night’s Interstate 35 rivalry game at Roadrunner Field, the feeling in the grandstands for fans of the visiting Texas State Bobcats was one of confidence.

The Texas State bullpen was toying with UTSA, stringing together four straight scoreless innings, all while using pinpoint control to keep the home-team’s hitters hopelessly off balance. A three-run lead for the seventh-ranked team in the nation? Well, it seemed pretty safe.

Ryan Beaird, a freshman from Reagan High School, pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings to get the win in UTSA's 14-8 victory over Texas State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

Ryan Beaird, a freshman from Reagan High School, pitched scoreless fifth and sixth innings to get the win. – Photo by Joe Alexander

Until the bottom of the sixth, that is. At that juncture, the Roadrunners took what may be remembered as an important step in their season — maybe the most important to date — by exploding for eight runs on the way to a decisive 14-8 victory.

Not only did the Roadrunners end the rival Bobcats’ nine-game winning streak, they also likely gained some national recognition, which could come in handy when bids are handed out for the NCAA postseason tournament.

“I think the most impressive thing (to) me about tonight was just seeing our team not give up, (seeing it) persist,” UTSA freshman Matt King said. “Coach (Pat) Hallmark is always talking about it. Persist. If we get down, we’re always in the game. It don’t matter how many outs are left. We’re always in the game.”

For the Bobcats, the bottom of the sixth was an inning filled with blown opportunities. If their pitchers had thrown only a few more strikes, they might have survived it. If their defense hadn’t made two errors, then UTSA’s four hits wouldn’t have caused nearly as much damage.

Texas State coach Steven Trout in a game at UTSA on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. - photo by Joe Alexander

The Texas State Bobcats, under third-year coach Steve Trout, moved up to seventh in one national poll earlier this week. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But, with two walks, a hit batsman, a botched double-play attempt and a fumbled bunt out in front of the pitcher’s mound, the Roadrunners took full advantage of the situation.

First, they seized the lead and then, ultimately, they blew the game open with a three-run double by King, an 18-year-old freshman from Kingwood Pak High School in the Houston area.

By the time King’s two-out, line drive into center field was chased down and relayed back to the infield, Sammy Diaz and Chase Keng had already scored. Isaiah Walker, who started out on first base, wheeled all the way around and slid in head first at home just ahead of a relay throw for a 13-8 UTSA lead.

“Right off the bat, I knew I squared it up,” King said. “I just put my head down and started running. I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle and help my team.”

UTSA fans, including some who live to celebrate success against Texas State in any sport, roared their approval and chanted the school’s four-letter name. ‘UT-SA!’ King just stood on second base, taking it all in.

“It’s always good to get a win,” King said. “But this one meant more. I mean, everyone came out to support. It was great. We had great energy at the Bird Bath tonight. It was awesome.”

For UTSA’s baseball players, the energy seems to be building by the day. They have won four in a row heading into a Conference USA weekend series at Middle Tennessee, and in their last 18 games, the Roadrunners have posted a 15-3 record.

John Chomko pitched two-plus scoreless innings in UTSA's 14-8 victory over Texas State on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at Roadrunner Field. - photo by Joe Alexander

John Chomko struck out three in two scoreless innings for the Roadrunners. — Photo by Joe Alexander

Winning consistently in mid-week situations, they have registered victories this season against second-ranked Stanford, 11th-ranked TCU and now No. 7 Texas State, a Sun Belt Conference team with 32 victories.

Last week in San Marcos, Texas State held off UTSA, 14-12, claiming the win after the Roadrunners had scored seven runs in the top of the ninth. This week, the Roadrunners turned the tables, emerging victorious against the Bobcats for the first time since 2019.

“Yeah, it’s a little rivalry game,” Hallmark said. “(Texas State) coach (Steve) Trout, he does such a good job with them. We kind of started together (both hired, for the 2020 season), and we’re so close (in proximity), we pay a lot of attention to each other.

“I’ve got a great deal of respect for him. He’s got a great club. It’s a little bit like ours, (with) some older hitters. Hitters that are just very, very disciplined. They’re hard to strike out. They don’t let things bother them.

“It’s a great win, because they’re so good.”

Records

UTSA 28-13
Texas State 32-10

Notable

The Roadrunners fell behind early, 2-0, in the top of the first. Then they exploded for five in the bottom half for a three-run lead. Undeterred, the Bobcats answered with four runs in the second inning. Ben McClain hit a three-run homer and Dalton Shuffield a solo shot. In the third, the Bobcats added two more runs for an 8-5 lead.

On many nights previous to this one, the Bobcats might have rolled to a double-figure scoring total and a lopsided win. Not this time. UTSA relievers, including Simon Miller, Reece Easterling, Ryan Beaird (2-1), John Chomko and Luke Malone answered the call.

Trying to put out the fire in the third, Miller gave up an unearned run. But that was it. The Bobcats would not score again. Easterling pitched one inning, Beaird and Chomko worked two apiece, and then Malone — UTSA’s ace — finished with the last three outs.

Offensively, Leyton Barry had three hits, while Ian Bailey, Keng, Walker and King finished with two apiece.

King had a memorable sixth inning with two hits in two at bats. First, he singled and later scored. On his next time up, he lashed the 3-RBI double.

Keng is UTSA’s hottest hitter over UTSA’s 15-3 surge with 26 hits (in the 17 games that he has played during that stretch). Barry, meanwhile, is the team’s hottest hitter in the short term. In UTSA’s last five games, he has produced multiple hits in each game, 13 in all.

Hallmark praised King as a “savvy” athlete who has played year round since grade school. He showed off his poise late in the game, helping to turn a double play on one maneuver. On another, he made a difficult catch of a pop fly in foul territory.

With a .274 average at the plate, he is expected to improvce with age, maturity and time in the weight room.

Quotable

“At that plate, what he needs more than anything, is just strength, which comes with time,” Hallmark said. “His swing is fine. He’s got a good approach. He knows college pitching is tougher, and he’s working on it. He’s going to be a great hitter for us as long as the strength keeps comimg.”

Scenes from the sixth

Coming up

UTSA — Three-game C-USA series at Middle Tennessee State, starting Friday.
Texas State — Three-game series in the Sun Belt, at home, against South Alabama, starting Friday.

Texas State at UTSA game tonight carries NCAA implications

UTSA's Chase Keng playing against Florida International on Sunday, April 24, 2022, at Roadrunner Field in San Antonio. - photo by Joe Alexander

Chase Keng has emerged as one of UTSA’s hottest hitters. He’s averaging .387 with six doubles, a triple and two homers during the Roadrunners’ recent 14-3 surge.- Photo by Joe Alexander


UTSA and Texas State, two old rivals with designs on reaching the NCAA baseball tournament, will meet tonight at 6 at Roadrunner Field.

Both enter the game on hot streaks, with the Roadrunners riding a 14-3 surge in their last 17 games, while the Bobcats have won nine straight. Texas State is 12-3 in its last 15.

The two programs separated by about 50 miles of interstate highway played for the first time in two years last week in San Marcos, and Texas State held off UTSA 14-12 despite the Roadrunners rallying for seven runs in the ninth inning.

Last weekend, both teams swept three-game series at home within their own conferences, with Texas State (32-9) blitzing the Little Rock Trojans in the Sun Belt and UTSA (27-13) rolling past the FIU Panthers in Conference USA.

This week, Texas State is ranked anywhere from No. 7 to No. 20 in the polls.

UTSA is unranked except that it is receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers poll. In the NCAA ratings percentage index, Texas State is 47th and UTSA 58th.

Sixty four teams make the NCAA tournament, which starts in June.

Tonight’s starters

UTSA’s Ryan Ward (1-0, 4.50) against Texas State’s Tevis Sundgren (2-4, 6.23)

Records

UTSA 27-13
Texas State 32-9

Last NCAA appearance

UTSA — 2013
Texas State — 2011

Coming up

UTSA — On Friday, UTSA opens a Conference USA road series at the Middle Tennessee State
Texas State — Will start a Sun Belt Conference series at home Friday against South Alabama

The series

Texas State leads the series against UTSA, 61-37. The Bobcats have won two straight off the Roadrunners and four of the past five.

The Bobcats and Roadrunners played in the same conference for most of the three-decades old rivalry, first in the Southland and for one year in the Western Athletic Conference.

In the 2014 season, the Bobcats started play in the Sun Belt, while UTSA linked with Conference USA. Over that period of time, Texas State has won 10 of the 18 games overall, but UTSA has won five of the eight meetings held in San Antonio.

The national rankings

Texas State – UTSA

RPI 47 – 58
Baseball America 19 – NR
Collegiate Baseball 7 – NR
D1Baseball 17 – NR
NCBWA 20 – receiving votes
Perfect Game NR NR
USA Today Coaches 18 NR

Series results

The Bobcats and the Roadrunners have played in separate conferences since the 2014 season. Here are the results of their games since then:

2022

Texas State wins 14-12 at San Marcos on April 19

2021

Did not play

2020

Texas State wins 11-1 at San Marcos on March 10

2019

UTSA wins 8-5 at San Antonio on April 30

Texas State wins 14-1 at San Marcos on April 2

Texas State wins 8-3 at San Antonio on March 5

2018

UTSA wins 5-3 at San Marcos on April 3

UTSA wins 7-2 at San Antonio on March 20

Texas State wins 5-2 at San Marcos on March 13

2017

Texas State wins 11-8 at San Antonio on May 2

UTSA wins 9-1 at San Marcos on March 7

2016

Texas State wins 6-0 at San Antonio on May 3

Texas State wins 13-10 at San Marcos on April 5

UTSA wins 14-7 at San Antonio on March 15

2015

UTSA wins 10-8 at San Marcos on April 14

UTSA wins 5-4 at San Antoio on March 31

Texas State wins 11-7 at San Marcos on March 17

2014

UTSA wins 7-2 at San Antonio on April 15

Texas State wins 7-6 at San Marcos on April 1

Texas State’s Tristan Stivors reflects on a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience

Texas State closer Tristan Stivors has struck out 23 while walking only one in 13 innings this season. He fanned three and earned the save in the Bobcats’ 6-4 victory Wednesday over the top-ranked Texas Longhorns. — Photo by Jill Slaughter, courtesy of Texas State athletics

SAN MARCOS — Fourteen games into his senior season with the Texas State Bobcats, 6-foot-4 righthander Tristan Stivors has developed into one of the unquestioned leaders on the team’s pitching staff.

If a game is on the line late, everyone knows who is getting the ball.

It’s Stivors, who throws breaking pitches so nasty that hitters’ knees sometimes buckle as the ball darts into the strike zone. For some, swinging at shadows might produce more success.

In eight appearances with the Bobcats this spring, Stivors has struck out 23 and walked only one in 13 innings.

The former multi-sport standout at Medina Valley High School also has fashioned 1-0 record, an 0.69 earned run average and four saves.

One of the saves came in the biggest of moments Wednesday night when the 17th-ranked Bobcats upset the top-ranked Texas Longhorns, 6-4, in Austin.

With runners at first and second base, Stivors pitched out of trouble in the ninth inning when he struck out UT star Ivan Melendez to end the game. Melendez was frozen on a breaking pitch that bit hard and caught the inside corner.

When the home plate umpire called strike three, a packed house of nearly 7,500 fell mostly silent except for a vocal group of Bobcats fans who cheered wildly.

“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Stivors said Thursday afternoon before practice. “It’s something that I will never forget.”

With the win, the Bobcats improved to 11-3 on the season, including a 6-2 record against power conference programs and 1-1 against the Longhorns.

This weekend, Texas State hosts three games with the Southern University Jaguars, starting with the series opener at 3 p.m. Friday. Single games are also set for Saturday and Sunday.

Next week, the Bobcats will host the Prairie View A&M Panthers on Tuesday night, and next weekend, the team’s Sun Belt Conference schedule commences in a three-game road series at Arkansas State.

The conference season looks promising for the Bobcats right now, given that they have won three games at home against the Ohio State Buckeyes, two of three on the road at Arizona and now have split two against UT.

Texas won in San Marcos, 9-8, on Tuesday night to spoil a night in which a Texas State-record crowd of 3,283 attended. The Bobcats returned the favor 24 hours later in Austin at UFCU Disch-Falk Field even after falling behind by three runs early.

Trailing 3-0, Texas State found a spark when John Wuthrich hit a three-run home run in the third inning to tie the score. The Bobcats scored two more before the inning was over on miscues between the UT pitcher and catcher.

In the fourth, Isaiah Ortega-Jones belted a solo home run, lifting Texas State into a 6-3 lead. Texas, in response, added one run in the fifth to make it 6-4. But, remarkably, a Texas State team that lost 36 games last year held the lead to the end.

Crazier still, Bobcats’ pitching notched strikeouts for the last six outs, including three by Levi Wells in the eighth and three more by Stivors in the ninth.

Stivors, who was warming in the bullpen in the eighth, heard all the groans from Longhorns’ fans as Wells fanned three in a row.

Moments later, he heard a thunderous roar of disapproval when the home plate umpire ejected UT coach David Pierce, apparently for arguing balls and strikes.

“Another time I noticed it was really loud was when I was stepping on that mound,” Stivors said. “I actually looked around and I saw how many people were (in the ball park), and I just took it all in. I made sure just to stay in the present moment.”

On Tuesday, Stivors had pitched the top of the ninth inning in the UT series opener. That night, his mission was to keep the game close. He succeeded, blanking the Longhorns while striking out two.

But the Bobcats, trailing by one, eventually lost in agonizing fashion. In their last at bat, they left the potential tying run at third. On Wednesday, it was the Longhorns who came up empty in the ninth, courtesy of Stivors and his newfound swagger after a so-so 2021 season.

“He’s been really good and really lights out for us,” Texas State coach Steve Trout said. “And, I think more importantly, he’s just rolling right now with some confidence. He knows he’s got the stuff to get anybody out, and he wants the ball in that moment.”

Last year, Stivors was 2-3 with a 5.34 earned run average. He struck out 39 in 28 and 2/3 innings. But he was prone to streaks when he couldn’t command his pitches, and he walked 13 on the season.

This year, by contrast, his command is much better. Particularly, his command on his fastball. Stivors throws it with “tilt” and keeps it low and away to righthanders. By doing so, he sets up his breaking pitches, including both a slider and a curve.

Trout said the curve is definitely the “dirtiest” pitch in Stivors’ arsenal.

“That’s his most confident pitch,” the coach said. “He threw a really good one (on a 3-2 count against Melendez) and won the game for us. What a clutch pitch, and, you know, he was battling with everything. The fans. The energy (in the stadium). Everything. Everything that was going on.

“That just shows you his mental toughness, to be able to execute that pitch in that moment.”

It also shows you why Stivors has earned the dual roles of both closer and leader for a team on the rise.

Texas State baseball holds on to beat top-ranked Texas, 6-4

John Wuthrich hit a three-run homer to ignite a five-run third inning Wednesday night, leading the Texas State Bobcats past the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns, 6-4.

Isaiah Ortega-Jones added a solo homer in the fourth for the Bobcats, from the Sun Belt Conference, who have won six of eight meetings this season against power conference programs.

Texas State has swept three games from Ohio State of the Big Ten, won two of three at No. 11 Arizona of the Pac-12 and now have split two against the top-ranked Longhorns from the Big 12.

On Tuesday night, Texas rallied from a three-run deficit to beat Texas State 9-8 in San Marcos. A night later, UT threatened to pull off another comeback in Austin, only to be stifled in the late innings by Bobcats relief pitchers.

The game got intense after the eighth, particularly, when three Texas batters struck out against Levi Wells.

After the third out, UT coach David Pierce was ejected by the home plate umpire. With Pierce coming onto the field arguing his case, fans howled. But pretty soon, Pierce went back to the dugout, gathered his things and left.

In the bottom of the ninth, Tristan Stivors, formerly of Medina Valley High School, entered to pitch for the Bobcats.

Mitchell Daly singled and Eric Kennedy reached on a one-out hit by pitch. With runners at first and second, slugger Ivan Melendez came at the plate.

Stivors didn’t flinch. He threw a breaking ball to strike out Melendez looking to end the game. Both Wells and Stivors each struck out three in an inning’s work to complete the victory.

Records

Texas State 11-3
Texas 12-2

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Jackson scores 33 points as UTSA beats Texas State, 77-71

Guard Jhivvan Jackson produced a season-high 33 points and added seven rebounds Saturday afternoon, leading the UTSA Roadrunners past the Texas State Bobcats, 77-71, in San Marcos.

Jackson hit 13 of 26 from the field as the Roadrunners (3-6) won their first road game of the season and claimed their first two-game winning streak.

Keaton Wallace scored 17 points and Erik Czumbel had 11 to deny the Bobcats (6-4).

Breaking from a three-point halftime lead, the Roadrunners stayed patient in their offense and hit six three-pointers after intermission.

Jackson nailed a big one with 4:48 remaining to make it a 10-point game. With a defender’s hand in his face, he leaned back and hoisted it high, drawing nothing but net.

“They’re a great defensive team and I knew they were going to come at me,” Jackson told the team’s radio broadcast. “But I had a couple of easy shots in the beginning. It was kind of just, my teammates helped me on the screens, and coach trusted me to take a few more shots. I mean, they were really just going in today.”

It was a big win for the Roadrunners, who started the season at 0-5.

“To be honest, this was a concerning game … because they’re so tough, so good defensively,” UTSA coach Steve Henson said. “We haven’t shown the ability to have strong possessions yet. We get clicking sometimes, but I was concerned that maybe we weren’t ready to have enough good offensive possessions to withstand their pressure, and we did.”

Guard Mason Harrell led the Bobcats with 19 points. Guard Caleb Asberry had 18. Nijal Pearson, Texas State’s best player, was held to 15 points on 5 of 15 shooting.

Pearson was 2 of 6 from the field in the second half and seemed frustrated at times by the UTSA defense.

First-half recap

Jackson came out hot, scoring 21 points in the first half as UTSA took a 37-34 lead on the Bobcats.

The game is being played in San Marcos at Strahan Arena, the home of the Bobcats.

Hitting nine of 16 from the field and three of seven from beyond the arc, Jackson paced the Roadrunners, who built a lead as large as nine points.

Mason Harrell hit a three with four seconds left in the half to pull the Bobcats to within three.

Records

UTSA 3-6
Texas State 6-4

Recently

Texas State played at the University of Houston on Wednesday night. The Cougars won 68-60 to snap the Bobcats’ four-game winning streak.

UTSA played at home on Tuesday, beating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 89-67. It was UTSA’s first victory over an NCAA Division I team this season.

Texas State rallies for 64-57 road victory at UNLV

The Texas State Bobcats rallied from a 10-point deficit in the first half and then held on late to defeat the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels 64-57 Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

Guard Nijal Pearson led the Bobcats with a season-high 25 points and 10 rebounds in the victory at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Runnin’ Rebels couldn’t get anything going offensively against the Bobcats, shooting 34.7 percent from the field.

Records

Texas State 4-2
UNLV 2-4

Key Sequence

Trailing 26-16, the Bobcats constructed a 12-2 run to tie the game at halftime. Pearson hit four straight free throws and a jumper in the streak that lifted Texas State into a 28-28 tie.

Star watch

Amauri Hardy scored 18 for UNLV, hitting 4 of 7 from beyond the three-point stripe. The junior guard from Detroit was 5 of 14 from the field. Hardy entered averaging 19 points.

Pearson, a senior guard from Beaumont, hit 8 of 16 from the floor. He was only 1 of 5 from three. But he nailed 8 of 9 at the line. He came in averaging 17.8.

Bobcats take over Sun Belt lead with win over Cajuns

The Texas State Bobcats on Saturday won their 22nd game of the year and moved into sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference.

They also did it in dramatic fashion, building an 18-point, second-half lead, falling behind by a point and then grinding out a 64-62 victory at home over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

Guard Nijal Pearson hit a three with 1:21 remaining for the final points of the game.

After the last regular-season home game of the season, Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar took the microphone at courtside and thanked fans at Strahan Arena for their support.

Texas State closes its regular-season schedule with three road games — at Troy and South Alabama and at UT-Arlington.

The Bobcats (22-6, 11-4) hold a one-game lead on the Georgia State Panthers (19-9, 10-5) in the race for the Sun Belt title.

Coastal Carolina, playing at home in Conway, South Carolina, beat Georgia State 95-82 on Saturday.

Records

Texas State 22-6, 11-4
Louisiana 16-11, 7-7

Individuals

Texas State — Tre Nottingham, 17 points. Nijal Pearson and Eric Terry, 13 apiece.

Louisiana — Cedric Russell, 25.

Fans start to take notice of Division I hoops in San Marcos

Keaton Wallace had 19 points for UTSA. Texas State beat UTSA 69-68 on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas State forward Chandler Davis (left) defends against UTSA’s Keaton Wallace. The Bobcats beat the Roadrunners 69-68 on Dec. 1 in San Antonio. – Photo by Joe Alexander.

Texas State Bobcats coach Danny Kaspar likely has known for awhile now that his team could emerge in March as one of the most special in school history.

He hasn’t said so in as many words.

At least, not until Saturday, when he started comparing his squad favorably to some of the best in school history.

Moments after a stirring 77-64 victory over Arkansas State in front of 4,163 fans at Strahan Arena, Kaspar credited the fans for their support and talked about how helpful they could be down the stretch.

“I know the crowd helped us, but it also wowed (the players) when they walked out there,” he said, in a video posted on the program’s website. “I mean, other than the Air Force game, that’s the first good crowd we’ve had.

“And, of course, a lot of our students are in town and that makes a difference.”

Texas State drew 4,058 on Nov. 9 in an opening-night 67-57 victory over Air Force.

With that performance, the Bobcats started to build momentum, which has carried them to a 16-3 record, including 5-1 in the Sun Belt.

Now tied for first in the standings, Texas State will commence preparation for a meeting with Sun Belt co-leader Georgia State Thursday night in Atlanta.

A demanding coach who chooses his words carefully, Kaspar said his team is “worth a look” when it returns home to play at Strahan in coming weeks.

“I just think this team is playing some of the best basketball in the Division I era (of the university),” Kaspar said. “I know that they had some great teams during the NAIA years.

“But in the Division I era, this is about as good as anyone’s been playing, since the Jeff Foster days, the Donte Mathis days.”

Formerly a NAIA and NCAA Division II program, Texas State transitioned into Division I in the 1984-85 season.

Success has been spotty, with the Bobcats reaching the NCAA tournament in 1994 and 1997. They haven’t been back since.

Could this year be the year? Given that the Bobcats are 14-2 since mid-November, the coach issued an appeal to the fans.

“I’m hoping people will say, ‘Maybe it’s worth a look,’ and start coming out,” Kaspar said. “I think they have fun when they’re here.”

Georgia State holds on to beat Texas State, 73-69

The Georgia State Crimson Panthers hit eight 3-point shots in the second half Saturday and held on for a 73-69 victory over the Texas State Bobcats.

Playing at home in San Marcos, the Bobcats jumped out to an eight-point lead in the first half and had the game tied with 12:49 remaining.

But a that point, in a battle of Sun Belt Conference contenders, the Panthers went on a 17-5 streak to gain the upper hand.

Nijal Pearson led Texas State with 26 points on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. The Bobcats beat UTSA 69-68 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Nijal Pearson scored seven points during a first-half burst by the Bobcats but was held to 10 on the day. – photo by Joe Alexander, Dec. 1, at UTSA.

Forward Malik Benlevi capped the run with two 3-point baskets for a 58-46 Georgia State lead.

At the end, the Bobcats made it interesting, pulling to within three.

But D’Marcus Simonds hit a free throw with four seconds left for the final point.

Early in the first half, the Bobcats constructed a 17-6 run that included seven points by Nijal Pearson.

Chandler Davis capped the streak with an offensive rebound and a put back attempt and two free throws, lifting the Bobcats into a 21-13 lead.

Not to be outdone, the Panthers answered with a 13-3 spree to the halftime buzzer.

A layup by Simonds with two seconds left boosted Georgia State into a 26-24 intermission lead.

Georgia State turned the game in its favor with second-half three-point shooting.

After hitting only 1 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first half, the Panthers made 8 of 15 after intermission.

Records

Georgia State 11-4, 2-0
Texas State 12-3, 1-1

Individuals

Georgia State — Malik Benlevi 19 points, 4 three-pointers, 7 rebounds. Kane Williams, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. Devin Mitchell, 16 points, 4 three-pointers.

Texas State — Tre Nottingham 17 points, 3 three-pointers. Jaylen Shead, 13 points, 7 rebounds. Nijal Pearson, 10 points. Eric Terry, 10 points.

Texas State’s Kaspar encouraged by effort at Arkansas

Playing on the road in a traditionally hostile setting, the upstart Texas State Bobcats opened with a 19-6 burst Saturday afternoon against a higher-profile opponent that didn’t seem all that interested in competing.

Texas State coach Danny Kaspar. His Bobcats beat UTSA 69-68 at the UTSA Convocation Center on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas State coach Danny Kaspar. – Photo by Joe Alexander

But then the Arkansas Razorbacks woke up and found a rhythm, answering with a 17-0 run over a four-minute stretch that spelled the difference in a 73-70 victory, putting an end to the Bobcats’ eight-game winning streak.

“We started off strong, and Arkansas picked it up,” Texas State coach Danny Kaspar told reporters. “They counter-punched us and knocked us down, and we were a little slow to get up. I guess it went from 19-6 (in favor of Texas State) to 21-19, something like that.

“Other than that stretch right there, I thought we played pretty good.”

Kaspar’s comments were posted in a video published online at wholehogsports.com.

After a Christmas break, Texas State will continue its non-conference slate on Dec. 29 at home against Howard Payne. It’s the final test for the Bobcats before they open play in the Sun Belt on Jan. 3 at home against Georgia Southern.

Based on what has happened in the first few months of the season, the Bobcats should feel pretty good about their chances in conference.

In Nijal Pearson, Tre Nottingham, Jaylen Shead, Alex Peacock and Eric Terry, they’ve got a leadership nucleus that has played well together for most of the season.

Kaspar lamented 13 of 41 shooting combined by Pearson, Nottingham and Peacock.

“We got to have our main people shoot better than that,” Kaspar said. “But, I thought our defense was reasonably good, against a team in a pretty hostile environment, like this place is.”

Texas State also outrebounded Arkansas, 42-34, grabbing 17 offensive boards along the way.

“You know, we didn’t really have an answer for (Daniel) Gafford,” Kaspar said. “I’m not sure a lot of people are going to have an answer for him. He’s a good player.

“But then I thought Mason Jones was the one player that made a difference in the game today. He really had a good game. He was very efficient against us. He hurt us even more than Gafford.

“But we’ll take from this and learn from it and try to do better.”

Kaspar seemed particularly pleased with the rebounding statistics, particularly the 17 offensive rebounds.

“Shows me we were battling pretty good,” he said.

Notable

Texas State is 10-2 to lead all teams in the Sun Belt in non-conference victories.

Pearson ranks in the top ten in the conference in three major statistical categories, including scoring (19.6, sixth), field goal percentage (48.9, eighth) and three-point percentage (49.4, first).

Shead, the team’s starting point guard, is tied for second in assists (4.9) and leads in assist-turnover ratio (2.7-1).