Texas State’s Joel Wright came up huge in a 78-73 win Thursday night at Idaho. No. 34 for Idaho is Stephen Madison (Texas State sports information photo).
Going on the road has proved to be a bit of a tonic for the Texas State men’s basketball team, which now has won two straight and has a chance to separate itself from the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) with another road game tonight.
Behind a productive all-around game off the bench by Joel Wright Thursday, the Bobcats notched a 78-73 win at Idaho. The win raised Texas State’s record to 2-6 in the WAC and 6-14 overall, while Idaho dropped to 3-5 and 7-11.
Wright scored a career high 37 points, coming up huge at the end of both halves. Wright also made six rebounds, five assists and five steals.
The Bobcats play tonight at Seattle (9 p.m.). The Redhawks are 1-7 and 6-12, tied with Texas-San Antonio (UTSA) for last place in the WAC. With a win tonight, the Bobcats could find themselves no more than one game away from being in the league’s first division when the second half of the WAC’s round robin, home-and-home schedule resumes next week.
Idaho ran out to a 28-11 lead with 7:36 left in the first half. But Wright closed the second half with a fury and put Texas State back into the game at halftime. Over the last 7:36 of the first half, Wright scored 15 of Texas State’s 19 points, adding two steals, a rebound and an assist. The halftime score was 34-30, Idaho.
The Vandals put their lead back out to seven at 45-38 with 15:31 left, but the Bobcats closed in quickly. After Reid Koenen hit a three-pointer to make it 45-41, the Bobcats rebounded Idaho’s ensuing missed shot and Wright made a layup at the end of the transition break. In addition, Wright was fouled on the shot and made his free throw, bringing Texas State within 45-44 with 14:38 left. Next, Idaho’s Wendell Faines made a jump shot, but Koenen immediately responded with a three-pointer, tying the game at 47-47 with 13:13 remaining.
For the next ten minutes, the Bobcats were thwarted at every opportunity to take the lead, and Idaho even regained a five-point lead with 4:45 remaining. Two free throws by Stephen Madison gave Idaho a 65-62 lead with 3:54 left. Ten seconds later, Wesley Davis made a layup to bring the Bobcats within 65-64, then Madison missed a layup, Koenen made the rebound and Phil Hawkins buried a three-point shot, giving Texas State its first lead at 67-65 with an even three minutes left.
Wright had another explosive sequence down the stretch, hitting a three-pointer to give Texas State a 72-69 lead with 1:30 left, then making a steal and dunking on the other end to make it 74-69 with 1:11 remaining. The Bobcats maintained that advantage through the inevitable free-throw shooting contest in the game’s waning seconds.
Idaho was barely better than Texas State in shooting percentage (48.0 to 46.7) and three-point shooting percentage (29.4 to 29.2 percent). The Vandals finished the night substantially ahead in free throw shooting (20 of 24 against 15 of 23) and rebounding (37-23).
But the Bobcats made only eight turnovers, compared with 18 for Utah. Besides Wright’s five steals, Koenen, Wesley Davis and Vonn Jones each had two steals and Corey Stern had one. As a result, Texas State took ten more shots than Idaho (60 to 50) and made four more (28 to 24). The Bobcats took seven more three-point shots (24 to 17) and made two more (seven to five).
Following Wright’s 37 points for the Bobcats, Phil Hawkins added 16 and Koenen had 10. Kyle Barone led Idaho with 27 points and 16 rebounds.Email | Print