Cowboys Escape Against Islanders

STILLWATER – Ray Penn and Marshall Moses decided Wednesday night they weren't going to let Oklahoma State lose a non-conference basketball game for the first time in three years. Penn and Moses took control in the second half, combining for 16 points in the final 10 minutes as Oklahoma State escaped with a 68-58 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

In a sloppily played game that left Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford frustrated for much of the night, Penn and Moses saved the day as the Cowboys extended their non-conference home winning streak to 26 games, the fourth longest streak in school history. OSU is now 163-3 in non-conference home games since 1987.

"You got to win here. The fans expect it, the coaches expect it, (and) we expect it," said Moses, who finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks as the Cowboys improved to 2-0 on the young season.

"I think it's just something about being in your home gym, and somebody beating you here that just doesn't sit well with me, and I know it doesn't sit well with my team, especially this guy sitting next to me. He's mentioned it to me a couple of times before," Moses said about Penn during the post-game press conference.

"We just don't lose at home."

But it wasn't easy against a Texas A&M-Corpus Christi squad that lost by 21 points to Texas A&M on its home court Monday night.

The 6-7 Moses took over the game midway through the second half after the Islanders had rallied to tie the game 42-42. The OSU senior scored seven of the Cowboys next nine points over the next four-plus minutes to give his team a 53-47 lead.

The Islanders trimmed the Cowboy lead to three points but Matt Pilgrim scored on an offensive rebound and then fed Jean-Paul Olukemi for a crowd-pleasing dunk on a 2-on-1 fast break to extend the lead to seven.

That's when Penn took over. The 5-9 sophomore hit a pair of three-pointers, including the second with just one second remaining on the shot clock, and added a couple of free throws in the final three minutes as the Cowboys held on for the victory.

"I'm just playing ball to be honest. I think it was Nick (Sidorakis) who found me on the wing, and I just hit a shot. We ran a play when the shot clock was running down ... coach trusts me with the ball, and I just made a play. I wasn't thinking about it; just playing ball," said Penn, who was 6-for-7 from the field, including 2 of 3 from behind the arc for 17 points in just 23 minutes of play.

The Cowboys dominated inside the paint, outscoring the smaller Islanders 42-16, with Moses leading the way. Darrell Williams only had eight points (he was a disappointing 2-of-13 shooting, and many of his misses were either layups or from point-blank range) but finished with 12 rebounds, including eight offensive. Matt Pilgrim added six points, eight rebounds and three steals in 19 minutes.

"When you miss as many layups as we did, and as many point-blank opportunities, it puts so much pressure on your defense. It can be very discouraging when you miss layups like that. I think it took its toll on us a little bit," said Ford.

"We were getting the ball where we wanted, we were playing hard, we were getting offensive rebounds, we were executing the way we wanted, we just weren't putting the ball in the hole. When that happens it can do a lot of things to the mental aspect of your game, and it puts a lot of pressure on your defense.

"But I thought we made plays when we needed to tonight in a very close game. I knew Corpus Christi was going to be a very physical team against us. We made some more positive steps but some of our biggest problems right now with guys just understanding, and that covers a broad area. But just understanding when to be, where to be, how to do it, time and score ... we just made a lot of bad decisions tonight.

"It's just a work in progress. I thought this was a small step forward for the few things we got to work on the last couple days from the Houston Baptist game. We still have a ways to go but that's not uncommon. It's early. We've got to stay positive and keep working."

But it won't get any easier for the Cowboys when they return to action Sunday against Nicholls State, the preseason favorite to win the Southland Confefence. Nicholls State, 1-1, is coming off a 62-53 victory over LSU on Tuesday night to end LSU's 82-game home court winning streak. It was the Colonels first non-conference win against a Division I team since 2008.

Cowboy Player Efficiency Ratings
vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Player Efficiency Rating (PER) = Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks - missed field goals - missed free throws - turnovers.

Marshall Moses: 23
Matt Pilgrim: 16
Ray Penn: 14
Darrell Williams: 8
Fred Gulley: 7
Jean-Paul Olukemi: 4
Jarred Shaw: 3
Nick Sidorakis: 3
Keiton Page: 0
Markel Brown: -2
Brian Williams: DNP
Mike Cobbins: DNP
Reger Dowell: DNP
Roger Franklin: DNP
Zathan Simpson: DNP
Songo Adoki: DNP

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