The final week of the Southland Conference basketball season will be like every other so far for the Texas State basketball teams in that each team is barely in playoff position.
But the final week will be different in that this week will decide it.
The men’s and women’s teams both are in seventh place after the men squished Northwestern State, 98-65, at Strahan Coliseum Saturday, while the women lost at Northwestern State, 80-72.
The men’s team now is tied for seventh place with Lamar, both at 6-8 in the league. The Bobcats received help from Nicholls State, which beat McNeese State, 80-76, dropping the Cowboys to 5-9 in the league, tied for ninth with Southeastern Louisiana with two games left.
The Bobcats cashed in on 29 Northwestern State turnovers and shot 62.1 opercent (18 for 29) in the second half to cruise into victory. Leading only 9-8 4:29 into the game, Texas State expanded its advantage to 40-20 12 minutes later, and that was before the team found its hot hand.
Brent Benson led the Bobcats with 27 points, followed by 22 for John Rybak.
Considering how close the Bobcats are to falling off the playoff ledge, and noting that they finish the season at Sam Houston State (10-4 SLF, 16-11 overall) on March 7, their March 4 home game against Texas-San Antonio becomes very important. UTSA is 8-6 and 17-10.
At 13-14 overall, the Bobcats need to win their last two games to end the regular season with a winning record.
After their loss Saturday at Northwestern State, the Texas State women are alone in seventh place at 6-8 in the league (12-14 overall). However, the three eighth-place teams – McNeese State, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Sam Houston State – all are 5-9.
The Bobcats and Northwestern State were locked up in a tight game throughout, with the Northwestern State leading only 72-68 with 30 seconds remaining. However, the home team made eight of eight free throws in the last 26 seconds to seal the win as Texas State tried fouling to regain the ball.
Gabriell Mattox led Texas State with 17 points, while Ashley Cole chipped in 16 and Victoria Davis added 13. Northwestern State’s Brittiany Houston led all scorers with 20 points.