Bobcats snap four-game losing streak in win over Trojans

Sports Editor
Wes Davis, senior guard, converts a layup against the Troy Trojans Feb. 26 at Strahan Coliseum.

Do or die. Make or break.

Those were the buzzwords for the Texas State men’s basketball team heading into the matchup against the Troy Trojans.

The Bobcats’ 67-61 victory is a welcome sight for Coach Danny Kaspar, who said he might “overhaul” the team next year if they did not come prepared to play.

Texas State is 6-11 in the Sun Belt, giving them a 1.5 game edge over Troy for the eighth spot in the conference tournament.

“I told them if ya’ll can’t get ready for these two games, I’m not sure you should stay here because it’s going to be hell for you next year,” Kaspar said. “This is a make or break game.”

The win snaps a four-game losing skid that put Texas State’s postseason hopes on temporary life support.

Defeating Troy at home ended another streak. The team had not won a home game since Jan. 15, a span of five games.

“I was proud of my guys effort,” Kaspar said. “They were ready to play today. They knew what was at stake.”

Emani Gant, junior forward, recorded his third double-double of the season. His 10 points and 10 rebounds were complemented by Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, sophomore forward, who led the team with 13 points.

Texas State’s 67 points was the team’s highest mark since Jan. 17.

“Sometimes our offensive play dictates our intensity at times,” Gant said. “If we aren’t shooting well, we need to stick to it and keep playing defense. That’s what we are learning and that’s what we did tonight. We were aggressive and confidence on offense.”

Kaspar started Cameron Naylor, junior forward, but ended up play Gilder-Tilbury 30 minutes in favor of Naylor.

“We have seven, maybe eight starters,” Kaspar said. “I’m gonna play people who are playing well. Kavin was shooting the ball well and I thought his defense was better than Cam’s. He hit some key shots for us, very timely shots.” 

Gilder-Tilbury’s 13 points were part of a balanced scoring effort, with eight players scoring at least six points.

The difference occurred in practice. Kaspar said the team elevated its intensity due to the circumstances.

All the team had to do next was replicate that intensity in a game, with the season essentially on the line.

“This kind of intensity is what we miss,” Kaspar said. “I don’t think we’ve had the intensity that we’ve needed in the last two weeks. I’m at a loss to explain that. I can’t make you play hard. Tonight they were ready to play.”

Texas State’s shooting performance is reminiscent to its last home win against South Alabama, with the team shooting 49 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range. Kaspar said shooting the ball well masks other potential problems on the court.

Now three games remain in the season. While a postseason berth is not guaranteed, Gant is already thinking ahead. He’s looking to make a run in the conference tournament.

Do or die. It’s about time.

“It’s on us,” Gant said. “I feel like we can win the whole thing honestly. If we get on a roll, play defense like we are supposed to and stay aggressive on offense, I feel like we can win it all.”

Follow Quixem Ramirez on Twitter @quixem