Slow first half dooms Lamar men's basketball team
BEAUMONT, Texas – Despite a second-half rally to pull within three points, the Lamar Cardinals were unable to overcome a 4-of-28 (.143) shooting performance in the opening half against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (10-13/7-3 SLC) falling to the Islanders, 58-35, Saturday afternoon at the Montagne Center.
“That was the worst half I have ever been associated with,” said head coach Pat Knight. “You can’t shoot 14 percent in the first half and expect to win. We cut the lead down to three points, but then we got tired. Coming back like that takes a lot out of you. We had some guys who just didn’t show up to play tonight.”
Junior Donovan Ross led Lamar with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, but he was the only Cardinal to reach double digits. In a game that saw Lamar score only 11 points in the opening half, the contest also marked the first time only one Lamar player finished the game in double digits. It also marked the first time this season leading scorer Nimrod Hilliard was held scoreless (0-for-5).
Although Lamar started the game ice cold from the field connecting on just two of their first 17 attempts, the Islanders couldn’t put Lamar away. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was 11-of-24 (.458) from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of the game, but Islanders were slowed by nine turnovers. In their first six possessions, A&M-Corpus Christi scored only one basket and turned the ball over three times. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Lamar was unable to convert the extra possessions into a single point.
The visitors built a 20-5 advantage nearly 12 minutes into the game. It was a Corpus Christi run that saw Lamar go scores for nearly six and a half minutes, before senior Amos Wilson ended the drought with a dunk at the 7:37 mark.
Despite their shooting woes and getting outrebounded by 13 in the opening half, Lamar went into the locker room within striking distance trailing by 15 points, 26-11.
After being grounded in the first half, the Cardinals turned to their defense to ignite a rally in the second. Sparked by two Donovan Ross steals, Lamar opened the half on a 9-0 run. A&M-Corpus Christi turned the ball over three times in its first five possessions of the half and the Cardinals managed to cut the lead to three, 28-25, with 15:45 remaining. But, it was some clutch offensive rebounds by the Islanders on their next possession that would swing momentum in their favor for good.
Lamar was unable to grab the loose ball and after two offensive rebounds the Islanders’ Jake Kocher hit a three-point to end Lamar’s rally. That would be as close as the Cardinals would get to victory as A&M-Corpus went on a 20-4 run to take a 19-point advantage. The lead would jump to as high as 25 points before the final buzzer.
Lamar was unable to find an answer for A&M-Corpus Christi’s size inside. The Cardinals were outrebounded, 42-20, which led to a nine-point advantage for A&M-Corpus in second chance points. The Islanders also received a boost from their bench outscoring Lamar’s reserves, 24-4.
Lamar shot 50 percent from the field in the second half, and finished the game 15-of-50 (.300) for the night. The league’s top free throw shooting team coming into the night, Lamar connected on only 5-of-10 (.500) attempts for the game.
The Cardinals will have a week to prepare for their next game against Sam Houston State. The Cardinals will travel to Huntsville, Texas Saturday, Feb. 8 to face the Bearkats at the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. The game against the ‘Kats is slated to tip off at 4 p.m.