The Texas State men’s basketball team found its stride late in the first half Friday night and ran away from Howard Payne, 102-67, in the first game of the season for both teams at Strahan Coliseum.
The Bobcats led only 45-43 with 51 seconds left in the first half, but freshman Dylan Hale hit a three pointer with 43 seconds left, then senior John Rybak hit another one with 28 seconds left, giving the Bobcats a 51-43 lead at halftime.
The Bobcats extended that lead to 69-48 less than eight minutes into the second half. After intermission, the Bobcats made only two turnovers while holding Howard Payne to seven-of-25 shooting from the floor.
Playing in his first game at Texas State, junior transfer Uriel Segura scored 15 points and handed out four assists to lead five players in double figures. Rybak, Cameron Johnson, and John Bowman added 12 points each to complement Segura’s effort. Hale, the only freshman on Texas State’s roster added 10 points in his first collegiate start.
“I think that we can break this game into two segments,” Texas State head coach Doug Davalos said. “We can take a look at the first half and figure out what we need to do, and we can build on some things in the second half. In the second half, we defended a lot better with our feet and instead of our hands.”
The game began with Howard Payne’s Brandon Irwin making a pair of three-point baskets as Howard Payne jumped out to an early 10-2 lead.
Texas State regained the lead at 12-11 when Bowman hit a baseline jumper. The two teams battled back and forth until Hale and Rybak hit the back-to-back three-point shots in the final minute to give the Bobcats a 51-43 lead halftime lead.
In the second half, Texas State turned up the defensive pressure, forcing 10 turnovers and held Howard Payne to 28. Howard Payne shot 58 percent in the first half.
The Bobcats made 17 of their 34 field goal attempts and 12 of their 18 free throws to outscore the Yellow Jackets 51-24 in the second half.
After their season-opening victory, the Bobcats travel to Tempe, AZ, to play Arizona State in the first round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Tipoff Classic.