Islanders Host Denver Monday Night in Home Opener

Islanders Host Denver Monday Night in Home Opener

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Monday, Nov. 14 • 7 p.m. CT

American Bank Center (8,100) • Corpus Christi, Texas
RADIO: NewsRadio 1360 AM KKTX (Steven King)

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team will take  part in its regular-season home opener on Monday night, playing host to the University of Denver at 7 p.m. at the American Bank Center. The Islanders are 0-1 after falling to Big 12 foe Oklahoma State on Friday night, while the Pioneers opened their season with a 69-62 win over Portland State in the Mile High City. This will be the first matchup between the two teams since the 2001-02 season.

Head Coach Willis Wilson is in his first season at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi after most recently serving as an assistant at Memphis for two season. He headed the Rice program for 16 years and is the all-time winningest coach in the school's history. The Islanders are playing with just 10 scholarship players this season and have 10 newcomers after graduation, injury and academic issues saw all but two regulars from last year depart the team. Denver is in its fifth year under Joe Scott, where the Princeton alum has instilled the regimented offense that bears the name of his former school.

Chris Hawkins-Mast led all scorers with 14 points, but the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team was unable to keep pace with Big 12 foe Oklahoma State in the season opener, falling 71-39 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Freshman Nate Maxey had four blocks and eight rebounds in his debut, most of those in the first half, in the loss.

Le'Bryan Nash led the Cowboys with 13 points for Oklahoma State, while Jean-Paul Olukemi added 11 and Cezar Guerrero poured in 12. Philip Jurick grabbed 10 rebounds for the Cowboys.

Denver emerged victorious from its season opener, knocking off Portland State, 69-61 at Magness Arena. Brian Stafford was the man of the hour for the Pioneers, scoring 32 points on 9-of-15 shooting, 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. He also went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line in scoring 46 percent of his team's points. Chris Udofia added 15 points and six rebounds.

The Islanders and Pioneers are 1-1 all-time against each other, with both results coming in the 2001-02 season. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi took the matchup in the Coastal Bend, 81-79, but fell in the Mile High City, 78-68.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has historically been very strong playing its home games at the American Bank Center. Entering their seventh season in the facility, the Islanders have a 65-26 record playing at the ABC, including four seasons with at least nine wins there.

After being a role player in his first season for the Islanders, senior Chris Hawkins-Mast has emerged as the team's go-to player on the offensive end. Hawkins-Mast  led the Islanders with 23 points in the exhibition against UIW, then led all scorers in the game at Oklahoma State, netting 14. He also delivered the team's only three-pointer of the game, knocking it down with 1:32 to play.

Hawkins-Mast has been arguably the hardest worker on the team, spending a tremendous amount of time on his jump shot outside of practice. The result has been a significant improvement in that area while still possessing his ability to get to the rim.

The native of Washington, D.C., attended a pair of junior colleges before landing at the Island University prior to the 2010-11 season. He went by the name "Chris Mast" a year ago, but chose to use his full legal name to honor his mother, whose maiden name was Hawkins.

Freshman Nate Maxey has been identified as the player with possibly the highest ceiling on the Islanders team, and he showed why at Oklahoma State. In his regular-season debut, the San Diego native had four blocks and seven rebounds in the first half before being limited by foul trouble after the break.

He twice denied freshman phenom Le'Bryan Nash on trips to the hole, and also denied Keiton Page on a three-pointer and Markel Brown on a jumper. The athletic 6-foot-11 big man has a massive 7-foot-9 wingspan. He added four points on 2-of-3 shooting against the Cowboys.