CORPUS CHRISTI – Lamar's Mike James scored a season-high 31 points, and the Southland-leading Cardinals (10-5, 1-0 SLC) used hot outside shooting to knock off the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team 74-58 on Wednesday night at the American Bank Center. Chris Hawkins-Mast led the way for the Islanders (1-12, 0-1) with 15 points in the loss.
Johnathan Jordan finished in double figures with a career-high 13, adding three assists, four rebounds and two steals for the home squad. Nate Maxey had eight points and added three blocks, giving him 24 for the season, a new freshman record among Islanders. Myron Dempsey came up one point short of a double-double with nine points and 10 boards.
James went 12-for-16 from the field and added three steals, and the Cardinals finished the game hitting eight of their last 10 shots from distance. The Islanders won the battle of the boards, 39-35, in the contest.
The Islanders scored the game's first four points, but Lamar countered with a 6-0 run. From there, the home squad rallied to regain a 12-10 lead at the 12:21 mark, with Hawkins-Mast and Jones combining to score all 12 points. The back-and-forth continued to ties at 12-12, 14-14 and 16-16, with neither team able to cobble together a significant rally.
The Cardinals pushed ahead for a 20-17 lead on a Mike James layup, the largest margin for either team since 4-0. The Islanders finally broke the basket-for-basket string with four straight points by Jordan for a 25-24 lead, but Lamar developed the games first true run, a 15-2 string, to pull ahead 39-27. A Jordan jumper cut the lead to 10, but the Islanders went into the break down 39-29.
Out of the break, Lamar scored the first five points to force an Islanders timeout with the score 44-29. But the Islanders got hot at that point, putting up a 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 46-39. Maxey was the big player for the home squad in the rally, scoring four points and adding a pair of blocks at the defensive end.
That was as close as it would get, though, as at that point, A&M – Corpus Christi's offense went cold and the Cardinals stayed hot from the outside. The Cards struck back, though, netting five points in a row to push the lead back to double digits at 51-39. Lamar, which started 0-for-5 from downtown, was red hot from the outside, hitting 7-of-8 from beyond the arc at one point. Lamar slowly pulled away in the contest behind James' highest scoring game of the season, and emerged victorious in the conference opener.
The Islanders are back in action on Saturday night, when they play host to McNeese State in a conference bout at 7 p.m. For tickets, click here or call 825-BALL.