Jacqueline Jeffcoat drives the lane for Texas State against Arkansas-Little Rock. TEXAS STATE SPORTS INFORMATION PHOTO.
The Texas State women’s basketball team won its Sun Belt Conference opener at Strahan Coliseum on Jan. 2, then followed it with a loss on Saturday.
The Bobcats beat Arkansas-Little Rock (UALR), 42-35, in their league opener, forcing 21 turnovers by the visitors, who are the preseason league favorites in a poll of the coaches. Two days later, the Bobcats fell, 87-71, to Arkansas State on their home floor.
There was never any doubt about the league opener, as the Bobcats rushed out to a 13-5 lead with 12:21 left in the first half. Following that was 4:21 during which neither team scored, as they combined for 11 missed field goals and three turnovers. Erin Peoples made two free throws with 8:00 left in the half, giving the Bobcats a 15-5 lead.
After extending the lead to 24-12 at half, the Bobcats took it to 14 points at times early in the second half and never were seriously threatened for the balance of the game.
The turnovers made a huge difference for the Bobcats, who only gave the ball up 11 times. Because they forced almost twice as many turnovers, the Bobcats were able to win, despite shooting only 29.5 percent (13-for-44) and being outrebounded, 32-24.
Ashley Ezeh led the Bobcats with 10 points, followed by Peoples with nine.
Two days later, the Bobcats appeared headed for more prosperity, jumping to a 12-2 lead against Arkansas State and holding a 44-39 lead at the half. However, the second half went disastrously for Texas State.
After intermission, Arkansas State shot 58.3 percent (14-for-24), compared with a nine-for-31 (29 percent) shooting performance for the Bobcats. Furthermore, Arkansas State went to the free-throw line 17 times and made 14, compared with six-for-14 by the Bobcats.
A three-pointer by Kaylan Martin gave Texas State a 51-43 lead wth 16:57 left in the game. But Arkansas State assembled a 19-2 run to take a 62-53 lead with 10:38 remaining. After Martin made a layup to bring the Bobcats within 62-56, Arkansas State set off a 13-1 bomb for a 75-57 lead with 5:52 left.
In a span of 11:05, the Bobcats went from cruising to cursing, as they were outscored, 32-5. The Bobcats won the other three-quarters of this game, but not by enough to overcome that stretch.
Peoples led the Bobcats with 17 points, followed by Ezeh and Martin with 15 each. But the Bobcats didn’t have enough answers for Arkansas State’s Aundrea Gamble, who scored 26, or Hanna Qedan, who scored 21. Gamble and Qedan combined to make 15 of 20 field goal attempts, including four of seven three-pointers. They also combined to go 13-for-14 at the free-throw line.
The Bobcats are 4-9 overall and 1-1 in the Sun Belt. They will play at Louisiana-Lafayette Wednesday (7 p.m.), then at Louisiana-Monroe Saturday (2 p.m.).