January 8, 2011

Cowboys Knock off Islanders in Conference Opener

LAKE CHARLES, La. - McNeese State used an 18-3 run to open the second half to pull away in a 72-49 victory over the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Saturday at Burton Coliseum. Diego Kapelan scored 17 points for the Cowboys (9-5, 1-0 Southland) in the conference opener for both teams.

It was a tale of two halves for the Islanders (5-10, 0-1) offensively, as the visiting squad was a robust 10-for-15 from the field in the opening stanza, but went ice cold after the half, shooting 6-for-26. McNeese had a banner day from the field in both halves, hitting 29-of-54 attempts (53.7 percent) for the contest.

Demond Watt led the Islanders with 16 points and eight boards in the loss, while Justin Reynolds added 10 points. McNeese had four players finish in double figures, as Stephan Martin (12), Patrick Richard (10) and P.J. Alawoye (12) all joined Kapelan in topping 10 points for the home squad.

Both teams came out of the gate red-hot from the field, with the Islanders burying their first four shots and McNeese hitting its first five to post an 11-10 advantage. But the Cowboys stepped it up defensively at that point, forcing miscues from the visitors, and put up a 6-0 run for a 17-10 edge. For the Islanders, distribution was the name of the game, as six different players hit the first six shots, but for McNeese, Kapelan carried the load, scoring 12 of the Cowboys' first 22 points to help them to a 22-16 lead at the 7:32 mark.

The Cowboys then embarked on a 7-0 run to build a 13-point advantage. Watt hit a pair of free throws to snap the rally, but McNeese repeatedly made the most of the Islanders' miscues, scoring four straight points off turnovers to build a 37-21 lead. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi rolled off five straight points on a Watt dunk and a triple by Terence Jones to cut into the lead, but MSU outscored the Islanders 4-3 into the locker room for a 41-29 halftime edge.

Out of the break, McNeese continued its strong shooting, hitting its first four shots for a 9-0 run to make it a 21-point game, the largest lead to that point. The Islanders were able to slow the Cowboy offensive, but on the other end, the hot shooting that had kept Texas A&M - Corpus Christi close in the first half had disappeared, as they opened the half 1-for-7 until an Antonio Topps three snapped the skein. Prior to Topps' bucket, though, MSU had an 18-3 run to its name and a 59-32 edge.

From then on, neither team was able to do much on the offensive end, with the teams trading points the rest of the way to result in the final score. McNeese State won the battle of the boards, 26-25.