By McNeese SID Matthew Bonnette:
LAKE CHARLES – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi burned up the nets in the first 20 minutes to build a 23-point halftime lead and never looked back in the second has as the Islanders handed McNeese State a 77-61 loss in Southland Conference men's basketball action here Thursday night in a battle of two 3-1 league teams.
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 5-12 overall and 3-2 in conference play while AMCC improved to 7-11 and 4-1. McNeese returns to the court on Saturday when it hosts Houston Baptist following a 1 o'clock girls' game between the two schools. The game will also be streamed live on ESPN3.
Corpus took advantage of McNeese not having its top athlete Kevin Hardy on the floor for seven minutes due to foul trouble and dominated the first half behind an accurate aim that saw the team connect on 18 of its 28 shots for 64.3 percent. The Islanders also held a 22-11 advantage on the glass at the break and scored 11 second-chance points. McNeese made just 7 of 27 in the half and was 3 of 17 from three-point range.
Hardy, who is averaging nearly 39 minutes a game, fouled out with 11 minutes to left and played just 18 minutes for the game.
"They (AMCC) whipped us in every aspect of the game," said McNeese head coach Dave Simmons. "I'm very disappointed in our effort."
Corpus' big man in Zane Knowles had his way with the Cowboys and finished the night with 16 points after hitting 8 of 9 from the field and pulled down nine rebounds. The Islanders held a 37-25 advantage on the boards and scored 17 second chance points on 16 offensive rebounds.
"Rebounding was a concern," said Simmons. "We tried to go big but we never had an answer for their big guy (Knowles)."
Desharick Guidry led the Cowboys with 11 points and five rebounds. Hardy finished the night with seven points, three rebounds and three assists.
McNeese shot the ball better in the second half by sinking 13 of 23 shots for 56.5 percent but could never get any closer than 16 points of the lead. The Cowboys outscored Corpus by a 37-30 margin in the second half.
"Outscoring your opponent in the second half doesn't mean anything if you don't do it in the first half," said Simmons.
John Jordan scored 12 points and Joy Williamson 10 to round out the double-digit scorers for the Islanders.
McNeese made just 5 of 24 shots from three-point range and was 16 of 20 from the free throw line.