Down as many as 17 in the second half, South Alabama got as close as six in the final six minutes but couldn't complete the rally in a 79-67 loss to Texas State Friday in the Sun Belt Tournament quarterfinals.
"Hats off to Texas State. From start to finish, I thought they physically whipped us. Offensively they bothered us with their physicality and their ball-pressure; we didn't handle it very well," said South Alabama head coach Richie Riley. "We made them miss some first shots, especially early and early in the second half, and they dominated the offensive glass. They finished with 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounded us by 14. We beat them a few weeks ago at our place and kind of messed up their regular-season championship, and they came in with a chip on their shoulder and handled their business. I think they have an excellent chance to win this thing."
Herb McGee led the Jaguars (17-17) with 25 points -- one shy of his career high -- and four assists. He shot 6 for 8 from the floor, 10 for 11 from the free-throw line and made all three 3-point attempts.
"I was proud of Herb. He was one of the guys we had out there that was really fighting. You could tell he wasn't ready for it to be over," Riley said. "I thought he was locked in all night and played his heart out. He's a competitive guy and it showed tonight. This was a tough-dude game. They're the most physical team in our league and he really gave everything he had to try and keep us around."
Rodrick Sikes added 15 points on four 3-pointers and became the 17th member of the school's 1,000-point club, finishing with 1,007.
Trhae Mitchell blocked four shots to give him 71 on the season, fifth most in school history.
After the Bobcats (24-8) went up 52-35 with 12:55 left, the Jaguars answered with 11 straight points -- all from McGee and Sikes -- only to see TXST respond with a 7-0 run. USA then scored seven unanswered themselves to get it back down to six with 5:12 on the clock but Texas State scored the next five points from the free-throw line.
South Alabama got as close as 67-60 with 2:07 left but the comeback stalled there.