Seniors Brandon Bush and Brent Benson made their final home game at Strahan Coliseum a memorable one Wednesday night as they combined for 47 points to lead Texas State to an 80-66 victory over I-35 rival UTSA.
Bush recorded his second double-double performance of the season with career highs of 28 points 14 rebounds to lead the Bobcats, while Benson added 19 points and Cameron Johnson chipped in with 10 for Texas State, who improves to 14-14 overall and 7-8 in Southland Conference play.
Early in the game it looked like UTSA might spoil the night that began with Texas State honoring its four senior players: Bush, Benson, Corey Jefferson and Dylan Moseley.
The Roadrunners jumped out to an early 9-4 lead when Joey Shank scored five points on a three-point shot and a pair of free throws to combine with a pair of lay-ups by Omar Johnson and Morris Smith, IV.
The Roadrunners extended their lead to 24-14 following a Devin Gipson’s tip-in with 10:29 left to play in the opening period.
“I was really proud of how our team responded tonight,” Texas State head coach Doug Davalos said. “They knew that we really needed to win this one tonight and every player we put into the game made a positive contribution for us.”
The Bobcats began their comeback with a 13-2 run as Johnson scored six points to lead a rally that gave Texas State its first lead of the night at 27-25 following a 15-foot jumper by freshman guard John Bowman.
Texas State never trailed again as Bush took over and scored 10 of his 14 first-half points in the next four minutes and gave the Bobcats a 37-32 lead at halftime
A pivotal moment came early in the second half when Bush was called for his third foul of the game with15:28 left to play and Texas State holding on to a 46-39 lead.
After Devin Gipson made a pair of free throws for the Roadrunners, Benson came right back and scored eight points to give Texas State a commanding 54-43 lead with 11:16 remaining in the game.
Bush returned to the game with 10 minutes to play and scored three-quick points with a lay-up and free throw to put the Bobcats up 61-49.
The two teams went back and forth during the next five minutes until Bush scored four straight points on a lay-up and a pair of free throws to give the Bobcats a 69-55 lead with 4:29 left to play.
After Shank nailed a three-point shot for the Roadrunners, Jefferson scored his only two points of the night when he drove down the lane and made a lay-up over Gipson. On Texas State’s next possession, Jefferson hit Moseley for a three-point shot in the right baseline. A minute later, Bush hit Moseley over the top of UTSA’s press with a 35 foot pass for a slam dunk that fired up the crowd of 1,875 and gave the Bobcats a 76-61 lead.
Then Bush made a pair of free throws to give the Bobcats their biggest lead of the night at 78-61 with 1:13 left to play. After the two teams exchanged baskets, Shank closed out the scoring with a three-point shot to make the final score 80-66.
Texas State’s win combined with Lamar’s 69-60 loss at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi puts the Bobcats in seventh place in the Southland Conference standings with a 7-8 league record. The Cardinals and Southeastern Louisiana are tied for eighth place at 6-9.
The win also improves Texas State’s overall record to 14-14 as the Bobcats close out the regular season looking for their third straight win when the Bobcats close out the regular season this Saturday at Sam Houston State in a regionally-televised game on the Southland Conference Television Network at 2:05 p.m.
— FROM TEXAS STATE SPORTS INFORMATION/RICK POULTER