San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

December 8th, 2008
Bobcats lose, barely, at Rice

STAFF REPORT

The question is never whether the Texas State men’s basketball team is going to be in a wild game, but simply whether the Bobcats will win it. So far this year against Division I teams, the answer is usually “no.”

The Bobcats lost at Rice Saturday afternoon in a winnable game, falling to 3-4 overall. Two of Texas State’s wins have come against NAIA schools Huston-Tillotson and Southwestern Assemblies of God.

Against firmer competition, the Bobcats tend to come up short, as Saturday’s 100-94 loss at Rice illustrated. The loss also illustrated where the Bobcats stand relative to the rest of the Southland Conference three weeks before the league season begins.

Rice is 3-5 with losses to Southland Conference schools Lamar and Texas-San Antonio. But the Bobcats aren’t quite on the level of Lamar and UTSA, who are among the Southland Conference favorites while Texas State is just trying to reach the league tournament.

John Rybak led Texas State with 32 points and ten rebounds as he shot seven-of-12 from three-point range. Rybak also poured in 24 of his points in the first half and single-handedly kept the Bobcats within 50-44 at intermission.

Texas State fought back to a 66-66 tie midway through the second half on a dunk by Brandon Bush. However, Texas State missed three straight shots while Rice countered with three three-pointers and a free throw for a 77-66 lead with 8:02 left.

The Bobcats came back in a flash near the end of the game, cutting an 89-80 deficit to 92-90 with 1:28 left after Brent Benson made a lay-up. But Rice went to the free throw line eight times in the last 88 seconds, making all eight. That effort down the stretch was typical for a night when the Owls were 29-of-33 from the free-throw line.

For a road team, Texas State stayed close to even at the free-throw line, making 25 of 29. The Bobcats also made more rebounds (36 to 33) and fewer turnovers (11 to 13). Both teams also made 13 three-point field goals, though Texas State did it in 29 shots and Rice needed only 25.

The difference in this game was razor-thin. Texas State coach Doug Davalos put it on his defense.

“I really feel bad because we wasted a spectacular performance by John Rybak,” Davalos said. “He not only was scoring for us, but he played with a lot of energy on defense. It’s just a shame that we couldn’t get enough players to play good defense and make some key stops in the second half.”

More opportunities for key stops lie ahead. The Bobcats go to Texas, which is No. 6 in both polls, Saturday at noon.

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