LUBBOCK - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team led by as many as 10 in the first half and looked to be on it way to a 2-0 start with wins over a pair of top programs, but struggled offensively down the stretch in suffering a 66-59 loss to Texas Tech in the Duel in the Desert Saturday evening.
"I am extremely proud of the effort our guys gave tonight," said Islander head coach Perry Clark, whose team defeated Oregon State 67-43 on Friday evening. "We just have to continue to get better on offense."
The Islanders (1-1) used a pair of quick runs in the first half to lead much of the first half. After Texas Tech's D'walyn Roberts scored in the paint to open the game, Kevin Palmer drained a three to start a 10-2 run. The spurt was capped by a Terence Jones three-point basket.
Demond Watt would twice score in the paint to give the Islanders leads of 10 points at the midpoint of the opening half.
The Red Raiders (2-0) would claw their way back to within a bucket with less than two minutes in the half on a layup by Darko Cohadarevic. Filip Toncinic's drive to the basket with 36 seconds left pushed the Islander lead to four at the intermission.
In the second half, the Islanders struggled offensively hitting just four field goals in the first 16 minutes and finished the half with a 30.8 percentage from the floor.
Texas Tech regained the lead on a three-point basket by John Roberson at the 15:58 mark. Tech would maintain the lead the rest of the game taking a 10-point lead on a basket by Cohadarevic with just over five minutes to go.
The Islanders played solid defense throughout forcing 16 turnovers. However, Tech hit 13-of-14 foul shots while TAMUCC was 8-of-17 from the charity stripe.
"Their ability to make free throws and our inability to hit them was a big difference in the game," said Clark. "Defensively, we played hard and I thought we competed well on the glass. We just didn't execute offensively as well as I would have liked. We were out of sync and I give credit to Tech for that."
Watt led the Islanders with 19 points matching his career-best set against St. Edwards' last season and also grabbed a game-high eight rebounds. Palmer added 19 points and swiped five steals as TAMUCC finished with seven. Jones had five assists.
Roberson led four Red Raiders in double digits with 15 points. Mike Singletary added 14, while Cohadarevic and Roberts each had 12.
The Islanders will face South Dakota at 1 p.m. on Sunday in their final game of the Duel in the Desert. A&M-Corpus Christi will open the home portion of its schedule this Thursday against Texas-Pan American at the American Bank Center. The game is slated for a 7 p.m. tip.