Women's basketball enters final road trip of regular season

Sports Reporter

One road trip remains for the Texas State women’s basketball team before the postseason tournament in New Orleans.

Texas State’s first opponent of the weekend is Appalachian State, which sits seventh in the Sun Belt Conference with an 8-10 record.

The Bobcats defeated the Mountaineers by nine points in the last matchup. Maryah Sydnor, Mountaineers senior forward, was injured during the game.

“When you have an all-conference player out of the lineup mid-stream of the game, it’s hard for a team to adjust,” said Coach Zenarae Antoine. “I can’t lie. That obviously helps.”

Sydnor had 10 points in 17 minutes before exiting with 14:15 remaining in the second half. The Bobcats outscored Appalachian State by six points in the rest of the game.

The Mountaineers lost five of their next seven games. Appalachian State won two straight games after Sydnor returned.

Sydnor is averaging 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. She ranks third in the conference for both statistics.

Antoine pointed to rebounding as a point of emphasis in response to the 6-foot-1-inch Sydnor. Appalachian State ranks third in the Sun Belt with 39.6 rebounds per game. The Bobcats, meanwhile, are second in the conference with a 41.1 average.

“We have to do a good job of boxing out, not allowing easy points in the paint and rebounds,” Antoine said. “I think now that they’ve been able to get her back—I think it’s helped them out quite a bit. I think they are back in sync now.”

Antoine said the team is focused on resting its bodies during the road trip. Texas State will fly into Charlotte before a three-hour drive to Boone, North Carolina.

Antoine emphasized the coaches need to eliminate stress by scouting Appalachian State and putting the players in a position to succeed.

“I think the less stress they have, the more free they’ll play, so I want to really start focusing on their academics before we take off on the road,” Antoine said. “I’m not going to overcomplicate things by putting in a lot of new stuff. We are going to take some things we’ve done before and tweak just little areas (in) prepping.”

The Bobcats might change their defensive strategy. The final decision will be based on their performance in the upcoming practice.

At this point, progress is key, Antoine said. She believes the Bobcats will succeed if they play with consistent effort.

“Our mindset is about continuously getting better so we have an opportunity to make a run,” Antoine said.

Antoine wants all eyes on Appalachian State rather than the Sun Belt Conference tournament. The Bobcats are seeded fourth with two conference games remaining.

“Outside of having to do some administrative stuff, I haven’t really thought much about it,” Antoine said. “Next one up. There are no (Connecticut Head Coach) Geno Auriemmas around here.”

Follow Paul Livengood on Twitter @IamLivengood.