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February 16th, 2009
Bobcat men beat Lamar, 71-67, in hoops

SUBMITTED REPORT

BEAUMONT — Playing in an arena in which no current team member had ever won and in a game that seesawed the entire night, the Texas State men’s basketball team recorded a 71-67 victory at the Montagne Center.

In game that featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes, the Bobcats outscored the Cardinals 6-2 in the final minute to pull out the victory.

The 11th tie came with 1:01 remaining when Lamar’s Anthony Miles made the second of his two free throws to make the score at 65-all. On Texas State’s next possession Cameron Johnson couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“They had been overplaying us all night and we were countering that by cutting back door a lot,” Johnson said. “But, when I caught the ball, I saw that the lane was wide open and drove it in for the easiest basket I scored all night.”

After Johnson’s lay-up, Brandon Bush made a pair of free throws with 26 seconds remaining to up the Bobcats up 69-65 with 27 seconds left to play.
After Lamar’s Tristan Worrell made a jumper in the paint for the Cardinals, Brent Benson closed out the scoring when he made a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left.

Kenny Dawkins missed a lay-up on Lamar’s final attempt and Bush grabbed the rebound to give the Bobcats their first win at the Montagne Center since Feb. 2, 2002.

“This was the biggest win of my collegiate career,” Texas State senior forward Brandon Bush said. “We came into this game looking at as an elimination game for the (Southland Conference) Tournament. We had to win this one to put ourselves in position for our remaining games.”

The Bobcats played like it was an elimination match-up throughout the game as they opened the first half with a 7-4 lead after John Rybak nailed a three-point shot from the left wing with 17:14 left in the first half.

Lamar answered with a 12-3 run of its own as Kenny Dawkins hit a jumper and scored a lay-up off a steal to give the Cardinals a 15-10 lead.

The Bobcats came right back with a 6-1 spurt to tie the score at 16-16 as Ty Gough made the second of his two free throws, Corey Jefferson added two more free throws and Brent Benson made the first of his two three-pointers in the first half.

After Lamar score four quick points to take a 22-18 lead, Benson’s second trey gave the Bobcats a 23-22 lead. The teams exchanged leads the remaining two minutes as Tristan Worrell made his only basket in the half before Benson made two free throws for Texas State’s final points in the opening period. Jay Brown hit a lay-up with 47 seconds remaining to give Lamar a 26-25 lead at halftime.

Texas State came out in the second half quickly and outscored the Cardinals 14-6 in the first five minutes to take a 39-32 lead with 15:06 remaining in the game. Corey Jefferson began the charge with a pair of free throws before Cameron Johnson score his first two baskets of the game around a lay-up by Benson.

But Lamar answered again as took a 53-49 lead on Dawkins’ three-point shot from the top of the key and Jay Brown’s lay-up.

But Benson brought the Bobcats back once again when he nailed his third three-point basket in the second half to make the score 53-52 with 9:03 left to play. After Bush tied the score with a free throw, the Cardinals opened up another four-point lead as Dawkins canned a pair of free throws and scored a lay-up.

The two teams continued to fight back and forth the rest of the way before Texas State outscored the Cardinals one last time in the final minute of the game.
Benson finished with a game-high 24 points to lead the Bobcats, while Bush added 14 and Johnson finished with 13.

Benson returned from a one-game suspension by the Southland Conference with his second straight 20-point game. He also netted 22 points at McNeese State.

“It was very tough to sit out the game against (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi),” Benson said. “After the league denied our appeal, coach Davalos told me the only thing I could do was practice hard and make my teammates better. That is what I did before that game and during the last two practices after it.

The hard work paid off as he led the Bobcats to their first win at the Montagne Center since Feb . 2, 2002, and second win in their last three Southland Conference road games. The win also improves Texas State’s record to 11-13 overall and 4-7 in Southland Conference play.

Dawkins led the Cardinals with 18 points, while Brown finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Brandon McThay also scored 14 points for Lamar who fell to 12-12 overall and 3-7 in league play.

— FROM TEXAS STATE SPORTS INFORMATION/RICK POULTER

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