LAKE CHARLES, La. – The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team got off to a blistering start and rode the momentum to a 77-61 victory over McNeese State on Thursday at Burton Coliseum. The Islanders improved to 4-1 in Southland play with the win – including a 3-0 road record – while McNeese is now 3-2 in the league.
Zane Knowles led all scorers with 16 points and added nine rebounds to lead three players in double figures for the Islanders. John Jordan (12 points) and Joy Williamson also topped 10 points for the road squad. Jake Kocher matched a career high with eight rebounds and added seven points and three assists, while Rashawn Thomas added nine points and six boards.
Desharick Guidry was the only player in double digits for McNeese, scoring 11 points. He nabbed a team-best five rebounds in the loss, as the Islanders won the battle of the boards, 37-25.
The Islanders got off to a red-hot start in the first half and carried the momentum all the way into the locker room. A&M-Corpus Christi scored 10 of the first 12 points in the contest, with Knowles contributing six of those to help the Islanders to a 10-2 lead. A pair of threes from Ledrick Eackles got the Cowboys back into the affair, trimming the deficit to 12-8.
Later in the stanza, the Islanders got a pair of three-point plays in three possessions – one by Thomas and the other by Williamson – to make it 21-12. The two teams tussled back-and-forth to a 30-20 Islanders advantage at the 5:32 mark.
That's when the road squad buckled down defensively. McNeese State missed its next eight shots from the field, and in seven of those instances, the visitors got the defensive rebound. The Cowboys managed just four free throws, as the Islanders went 7-for-9 over the next 4:51 to put together a 17-4 run to close the half.
A&M-Corpus Christi went 18-of-28 from the field (.643) as opposed to McNeese's 7-of-27 (.259). The Islanders owned the inside with 28 points in the paint to the Cowboys' eight.
McNeese started the second half on an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 17 at 49-32. But the Islanders got back in the positive column with a layup from Knowles and a fast-break layup for Jordan to push the lead back over 20. Over the next several possessions, the lead fluctuated between 17 and 22, with a three for Kocher at the 6:16 mark pushing it to 24 with 6:16 remaining.
From that point, the Islanders were able to hold a significant margin, with Cole Martinez knocking down a pair of threes in the closing minutes. After the score moved to 70-50 on a Williamson putback dunk at the 3:29 mark, the Cowboys went on a 6-0 run to get the lead to 14. But that was as close as the home squad would get, with the Islanders finishing off the 77-61 victory.
The Islanders continue their road swing on Saturday, as they head to Thibodaux, La., for a matchup with Nicholls. Tipoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Stopher Gym. Yannis Koutroupis will have the call starting at 3:10 with the pregame show.
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