Coming into a must-win situation, The Texas State men’s basketball team enjoyed one of its best shooting performances of the season and took advantage of 29 turnovers by Northwestern State as the Bobcats defeated the Demons 98-65 in a Southland Conference game at Strahan Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
Texas State shot 53 percent from the field and over 46 percent behind the three point line as senior guard Brent Benson scored 27 points and junior forward John Rybak added 22 to lead the Bobcats. Texas State also got strong play off the bench as John Bowman added 12 points and Ryan White score 10.
Texas State entered the game looking to rebound from a disappointing 68-52 loss at Stephen F. Austin and was in precarious three-way tie for seventh place in the Southland Conference regular season standings. It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to answer the challenge.
After Northwestern State’s Mike McConathy nailed a three-point shot from the top of the key to open the scoring, Texas State answered with 16-5 run as Rybak hit a pair of three-point shots, Corey Jefferson added a jumper in the from the right wing and Brandon Bush made the second of his two free throws.
Northwestern State’s Keithan Hancock hit a three-point shot from the left baseline and William Moseley followed up a missed lay-up with a slam dunk before Texas State quickly scored seven straight points. Bowman scored his first two points in the game with a 15-foot jumper on the right side. Benson and Jefferson closed out the rally with a pair of lay-ups.
The Bobcats led 23-14 before Texas State broke the game open with an 18-6 run. Bowman scored seven points and Rybak added five more to lead the rally.
After McConathy scored six straight points for the Demons on a three-pointer from the corner and three free throws, the Bobcats closed the first half with another 9-4 run to take a 49-30 lead into halftime.
During the first two minutes of the second half, Northwestern State appeared to be getting back into contention when the Demons scored four quick points. But just like the first half, Texas State answered with another decisive 14-2 run.
Rybak led the rally with a free throw off an offensive rebound and a pair of steals. His first steal led to Benson’s three-pointer from the top of the key, and his second led to him scoring three points himself the old fashioned way with a lay-up and free throw.
Brandon Bush, who finished the game with 7 points, a game-high 10 rebounds and three steals, got into the act when he stole the ball from Damon Jones and drove down court for a slam dunk.
After Rybak took a charge on McConathy’s drive to the basket, Benson nailed another three-pointer to give the Bobcats a commanding 64-36 lead
Northwestern State tried to fight back as McConathy hit a three point shot to start a 6-0 run for the Demons. After Mosley made a free throw, Charles Clark scored on a slam dunk to pull the Demons back to within 64-42.
Once again though, Texas State answered with Rybak and Benson each hitting a three-point field goal around Dylan Moseley’s jumper to give the Bobcats their first 30-point lead in the game 72-42 with 9:48 left to play.
Northwestern State couldn’t get any closer than 24 points the rest of the way as the Bobcats went on to win 98-65.
McConathy led the Demons with 16 points and Darius Richardson came off the bench to score 13 and Charles Clark added 10.
With the win, Texas State improves to 13-14 overall and 6-8 in Southland Conference play. The Bobcats also closed out the month of February with a 4-3 record, marking the first time since 2001-02 that Texas State has posted a winning record during February. The win also keeps the Bobcats in contention for the Southland Conference Tournament on Mar. 12-15 in Katy, Texas.
Northwestern State fell to 11-18 overall and 3-11 in Southland Conference play.
— FROM TEXAS STATE SPORTS INFORMATION/RICK POULTER