McNeese State Holds Off Men's Basketball, 71-69

CORPUS CHRISTI – Four players scored in double figures for the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team, but a McNeese State (5-8, 1-0 Southland) was able to stave off the Islanders in a 71-69 defeat on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. Chris Hawkins-Mast and Terence Jones led the Islanders (1-13, 0-2) with 13 points apiece.

Nate Maxey scored a career-high 11 and matched the school record with seven blocks, while Johnathan Jordan had a career-best nine assists to go along with 11 points. Myron Dempsey finished in double figures in rebounds for the fourth time in five games, grabbing 10 caroms on the night.

Patrick Richard led all scorers with 19 points for the Cowboys. McNeese State had a blistering first half from the field, starting the game 15-of-19 (.789) overall and 7-of-8 (.825) from beyond the arc.

Out of the gate, both teams went on five-point swings, with a trio of alternating 5-0 runs leading to a 10-5 Cowboys advantage. But after McNeese pushed the lead to 13-8, the Islanders put together a 6-2 run on a Jones fast-break layup to make it 15-14 in favor of the visitors. But the Cowboys responded with an 11-1 run, sparked by a Patrick Richard three, to regain a 23-15 advantage as the Islanders went cold from the field.

Kennon Dvorak, who made his first career start in the contest, snapped the string with a triple from the left wing, sparking a 9-2 run to bring it within four at 28-24. But the Cowboys got off the schneid with a three by Dontae Cannon, and that sparked yet another run, this one an 11-2 rally, to push the lead to 13 at the 3:05 mark. But the Cowboys' sizzling shooting cooled, as they missed their final four shots of the half to allow the Islanders to close the period on a 5-0 run with the score 39-31 McNeese.

The Cowboys, who started the game 15-of-19 from the field, hit 7-of-9 threes in the opening half, despite the fact that they came into the game shooting just 28.6 percent from downtown. The Islanders won the battle in the paint with an 18-12 advantage.

Out of the locker room, A&M – Corpus Christi came out pushing, and went on a 5-0 run to start the second half to make it 39-36. McNeese responded with a 6-2 run, though, again pushing the advantage to seven. Jones snapped that string with a three-point play, but the Cowboys had another 5-0 run in them before a Jordan layup made it 50-43 at the under-12 timeout.

The two teams traded points over the next several possessions, with McNeese State putting the lead at 56-49 with 7:10 to play. The Islanders trimmed it to 56-52 after a free throw and a Maxey putback, then trimmed it to two on a lob feed from Jordan to Dempsey at the 5:42 mark. The back-and-forth continued over the next several minutes, with the Cowboys countering each Islanders bucket. With the score 61-58 McNeese, Dempsey got the ball inside, laying the ball off the glass and in for a one-point game with 1:56 left.

But Rudy Turner had a big play on the other end, converting a layup and going to the line to complete the three-point play to make the score 64-60. Maxey made another huge play for the Islanders, converting a lob from Jordan to trim it to 64-62. This time Richard came through for the Cowboys, hitting an 18 footer to push the advantage to 66-62, and an Islanders turnover gave the ball back to McNeese. Richard hit four clutch free throws down the stretch, and the Islanders were unable to get any closer than four until Hameed Ali's three with 0.1 remaining resulted in the final score.

The Islanders are back on the court on Wednesday night, when they will head to San Antonio to take on UTSA. Game time is set for 7 p.m. in the contest, which can be heard live on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX and on GoIslanders.com. For the latest on Islanders men's basketball, follow the team on Twitter @IslandersMBB and on Facebook at Islanders Men's Basketball.