TULSA, Okla. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team put forth a tremendous second-half defensive effort, but its late rally came up short, as the Islanders fell to Oral Roberts, 56-51 on Saturday at the Mabee Center. Johnathan Jordan had 20 points and dished out seven assists in a losing effort for the Islanders.
Warren Niles scored 25 points and played all 40 minutes for the Golden Eagles, while Damen Bell-Holter posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. D.J. Jackson added 10 points for ORU in the win. The Golden Eagles got a significant advantage at the free-throw line, going 16-for-23 to the Islanders' 4-for-4. ORU outrebounded the Islanders 36-30 on the night.
Hameed Ali added 11 points for the Islanders, while Nate Maxey and Joy Williamson each had six rebounds. Maxey also tallied six blocks in a losing effort. The Islanders forced the Golden Eagles into 14 turnovers. A&M – Corpus Christi held ORU to just 2-for-15 shooting in the first 15:45 of the second half.
Niles found his stroke early on, knocking down his first three triples to stake ORU to a 9-2 lead. The Islanders responded with four straight points, sparked by a block and a charge drawn by Maxey. But Niles continued his hot stroke, hitting a jumper to push the lead to 14-6. A Steven Roundtree layup and another Niles three pushed the home squad's lead to 19-8.
Brandon Pye cut into the advantage with a three-pointer to trim it to 19-11 as the Islanders turned up their offensive game. But for every A&M – Corpus Christi basket, Oral Roberts countered with one of its own, keeping an eight-point advantage at 25-17. Jackson then was able to convert a four-point play, hitting a three from the left wing and finishing at the free-throw line to make it 29-17.
The two teams traded baskets to push the lead to 31-19, but Ali came through for the Islanders to cut it to six. He knocked down a triple from the left wing to bring it back to single digits, then swished a trey from the right corner to make it 31-25. The Islanders had a chance at a desperation heave, but Jordan couldn't get it off before the buzzer, and the visitors entered the locker room down six.
ORU came out of the locker room with an 8-0 run, getting four points at the free-throw line and four in the paint to push the lead to 39-25. But the Islanders responded with two straight baskets to put the game back within 10 at 39-29. Still, both teams stayed locked down defensively and neither squad was able to mount much of a charge.
The teams traded points to 41-31, then Zane Knowles converted a traditional three-point play to cut the deficit to just seven. That started an 10-2 run to get the Islanders within one, as Pye knocked down a mid-range jumper to make it 43-42 at the 4:32 mark. But Niles was able to get the Golden Eagles off the schneid with a drive to the basket for two. The bucket snapped a string of 11:14 without a field goal for the home squad.
That began a string of three straight field goals for the Golden Eagles, as they were able to mount a 6-2 run to push the lead to five at 51-46. The Islanders had a chance to cut it to two, but Ali's three from the corner rimmed out and the Golden Eagles collected the rebound. After Jackson hit two free throws to push it to seven, the Islanders trimmed it to five on a Knowles putback.
But Ali was whistled for a crucial technical foul before the inbound pass and ORU got two points back at the line. The Islanders then got the steal they needed and Jordan hit a three, but with the extra two foul shots, the game was out of reach, and the Islanders fell, 56-51.
The Islanders return to action for a Tuesday doubleheader on Stripes Court at the American Bank Center against Northwestern State. The men's team will tip off at approximately 7:30 p.m. immediately following the women's contest. For tickets, call 825-BALL (2255) or visit the ticket page of GoIslanders.com.