Game #9-521: Texas State Bobcats vs. Denver PioneersMarch 14, 2013 5:30 pm
Las Vegas, NV
Game four of the WAC tournament matched the seventh-seeded Texas State Bobcats (10-21 overall, 7-11 WAC), 68-56 winners on Tuesday against Seattle
, with the second-seeded Denver Pioneers (21-8, 16-2), WAC co-champions of the regular season. Denver won both regular season matchups fairly easily, in early January in Denver, 64-53, and in early February in San Marcos, 79-64. This game featured the fastest-playing team in the WAC, Texas State, who is also fifth nationally according to Ken Pomeroy, and the slowest team in the WAC and second-slowest in the country, Denver, playing for the right to face the winner of the prior game
, New Mexico State, in a Friday tournament semifinal.
Denver ended the regular season with ten consecutive victories; after a BracketBusters win at Northern Iowa, the Pioneers returned home to face the other three teams at the top of the WAC standings, defeating in order New Mexico State, Texas-Arlington and Louisiana Tech. Denver had won their most recent meeting with each of the other members of the conference. Although Texas State's season concluded with a win at San Jose State, they had only won three of their final ten regular season games; the only other WAC win came against Seattle.
The underdog Bobcats won the opening tip and went to work. Bobcat Deonte Jones scored on an eight-foot runner on the left baseline, and then on a superhoop from the right corner. When Jalen Love scored the first basket for Denver, five minutes into the contest, the Pioneers trailed 10-2. Joel Wright scored ten of the Bobcats' first nineteen points, and they led through the first twelve minutes 20-14. The Pioneers whose offense is always balanced, got strong contributions from Chase Hallam (five points) and Chris Udofia (seven points), each scoring a #superhoop, to bring Denver back to a tie at 26 with four minutes left in the half. Wright's six additional points kept the Bobcats in it. Love's superhoop before the half tied the game at 32. Texas State's Phil Hawkins scored five points, including a three-pointer that took most of the intermission to show up on the scoreboard as a triple, to end the half with a 37-32 lead.
Wright led all scorers with sixteen first-half points; Hawkins added seven, Jones and Matt Staff got five each. Denver's Udofia and Royce O'Neale had eight points each; teammates Love and Hallam scored five apiece. The Bobcats made up for their six turnovers (to the Pio's three), with rebounding (TSU 15, DU 11). Most importantly, the Bobcats shot 65% from the floor in the first period, including lots of layups, many by Wright; the Pioneers only made 38% of their tries, and only three of thirteen three-point attempts.
Wright scored three baskets to start the second period, two driving layups followed by a baseline jumper just inside the three-point line, causing a quick Joe Scott timeout for Denver. Reid Koenen closed out a 16-3 Bobcat run, starting at the end of the first half, with a long two pointer and a three-pointer, giving Texas State a thirteen point lead. The Pioneers continued to try to climb back into the game despite their deliberate style, but after three straight superhoops by Love, Brett Olson, and Hallam, followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by Olson, the Bobcat lead had only been reduced to seven with seven minutes to play.
After the teams traded points on a couple of possessions each, Udofia's layup cut the lead to five, and the next basket, credited to Love after goaltending was called on Wright, made the score 60-57; Texas State's lead with just over two minutes remaining was only three. Denver's full court press was broken, and Love' baseline jumper was the Bobcats final field goal, building his team's lead to five. When the clock reached seventy seconds to play, the Pioneers started fouling to stop the clock. Between the free throws, Love made a three-pointer and a layup for Denver, and Olson made two straight superhoops. Texas State coolly made all ten free throw opportunities, Hawkins converting on two one-and-one chances, and Wright making six straight throws to close out the victory. Denver got the lead down to two, but never caught the Bobcats in the second half. The Pioneers' comeback ran out of time; the final score was Texas State 72, Denver 68.
Brett Olson's seventeen second half points made him the Pios' leading scorer with nineteen. Love scored seventeen, Udofia twelve, and Hallam eight. O'Neale also contributed eight points and eight rebounds. Wright matched his first half scoring output, giving him thirty-two (and seven rebounds) for the game. Hawkins added thirteen points for the Bobcats. Koenen had nine points and seven rebounds; Staff and Jones each got seven points. This was a triumph of one-on-one basketball when the winners' were shooting well; Texas State shot 67% in the second period and 66% for the game despite only having three assisted baskets in the contest. The Bobcats held Denver to 40% shooting on the night; the Pioneers made ten three-pointers on twenty-eight attempts.
The loss ended the Pioneers' hopes for an NCAA tournament bid; their RPI rating did not rise to the level of their kenpom rating, which favors the deliberate pace played by Denver. They eventually received an invitation to the NIT before their WAC departure, heading to the Summit League for next season. Texas State advanced to their third game of the week, facing New Mexico State in a WAC semifinal.
TEXAS STATE 72, DENVER 68
TEXAS STATE 12-21 (5-13) -- R. Koenen 4-7 0-0 9; P. Hawkins 4-6 4-6 13; M. Staff 2-5 3-4 7; J. Wright 9-10 14-16 32; D. Jones 3-4 0-0 7; W. Davis 1-3 0-0 2; C. Stern 0-0 2-2 2; V. Jones 0-0 0-0 0; B. Brown 0-0 0-0 0; R. Dorsey 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-35 23-28 72.
DENVER 21-9 (16-2) -- B. Olson 6-10 3-3 19; C. Udofia 4-13 3-4 12; R. O'Neale 1-7 6-6 8; C. Hallam 2-7 2-2 8; J. Love 6-11 2-2 17; C. Griffin 2-3 0-1 4; M. Byrd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-52 16-18 68.
Three-point goals: TXST 3-6 (R. Koenen 1-2; W. Davis 0-1; P. Hawkins 1-1; D. Jones 1-2), DEN 10-28 (C. Hallam 2-5; C. Udofia 1-7; M. Byrd 0-1; R. O'Neale 0-3; B. Olson 4-7; J. Love 3-5); Rebounds: TXST 26 (J. Wright 7), DEN 17 (R. O'Neale 8); Assists: TXST 3 (P. Hawkins 2), DEN 10 (R. O'Neale 3); Total Fouls -- TXST 13, DEN 21; Fouled Out: TXST-None; DEN-C. Hallam.
© 2004-2014 The Mid-Majority. All content is the property of its authors.