STILLWATER, Okla. – 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.
After a slow offensive first half, the Islanders offense picked up early in the second half, but the Cowboys saw their outside shooting heat up as well, pushing the lead to 41-17 after a Guerrero three. An OSU traditional three-point play made it 44-17 before Hawkins-Mast converted a fast-break dunk for the Islanders. The visitors got a putback from Mast, a jumper from Jake Kocher and a pair of free throws from Johnathan Jordan in rapid succession, but OSU had an answer for every Texas A&M – Corpus Christi rally. Keiton Page scored four straight points for the Cowboys, and they built a 51-25 lead at the 8:44 mark.
But the visitors continued to work on the offensive end, with Jordan converting a brilliant layup after being fouled with 6:25 to play. He later added a pair of free throws, and then Ted Wang scored three straight points for Texas A&M – Corpus Christi to make it 61-34 with 3:14 remaining. The Islanders closed the game with 10 of the final 15 points, five from Hawkins-Mast, to result in the final score.
In the start of the game, Oklahoma State got out to a quick 9-0 lead, but Maxey showed his ability to change the inside game, swatting three Cowboy attempts early on. The Islanders got on the board with a Terence Jones jumper at 16:11, and the teams traded baskets to a 13-4 Oklahoma State advantage. Neither team was able to progress much over the next several minutes, with the Cowboys pushing it to 17-8 at the 7:11 mark.
But the Cowboys went on a big 14-3 run at that point to build a 31-11 lead at the half. Maxey entered the locker room with four blocks and seven rebounds with a strong defensive performance, but the Islanders shot just 5-for-27 from the field. Nash and Olukemi led all players with eight points in the opening half.
The Islanders will have just a brief respite, as they return to action on Monday night to face Denver at the American Bank Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m. in the home opener for Texas A&M – Corpus Christi against the Pioneers. For tickets, call 825-BALL or visit GoIslanders.com.