Okafor’s career night helps Lions to 83-74 win over Islanders

Published 2:49 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

Gus Okafor scored a career-high 32 points as the Southeastern Louisiana men’s basketball team defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 83-74, Thursday night at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.

SLU (15-12, 7-3 Southland) also finished 31-for-33 from the free throw line for 93 percent. The 31 made free throws was the most by SLU since Jan. 12, 2019 when the Lions made 31 of 33 from the charity stripe against Abilene Christian.

“We were unbelievable at the free throw line,” said third year SLU men’s head basketball coach David Kiefer. “We did a great job of driving the basketball and being strong with the ball. I thought our guys did a good job of being strong with the ball near the basket and they were rewarded with opportunities at the free throw line and they converted.”

Okafor, out of Baltimore, Maryland, finished the game 10-for-17 from the field, including 3-for-5 from behind the three-point line. The Lions’ forward was also 9-for-9 from the free throw line while snatching 13 rebounds for his fifth double-double of the season. Okafor’s 32 points was the most by a Lion since Moses Greenwood scored 33 points in an 81-67 win over New Orleans back on March 6, 2019.

The Lions also got double figures from Keon Clergeot and Joe Kasperzyk with both scoring 13 points. Clergeot was perfect at the free throw line making all eight his attempts. Kasperzyk was 4-for-6 from the field and knocked down a pair of three pointers.  Jalyn Hinton added 12 points and also added to his league lead in blocked shots with four more on Thursday.

The Islanders (16-9, 3-5 Southland) were led by Isaac Mushila with 17 points and 11 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Trevian Tennyson contributed with 16 points, including four three-pointers while De’Lazarus Key had 12 to help the Islanders.

The Lions came out strong as they built a nine-point half team lead of 33-24. SLU shot 14-for-30 (46 percent) and was 9-for-9 from the free-throw line in the first half. Okafor also scored 19 of his 32 points in the first half

Southeastern began to grow their lead in the second half as it led by as many as 14 points, 49-35. The Islanders hung tough as it cut the Lions’ lead to 66-61 with 5:09 remaining.

However, SLU continued to convert at the free throw line as it hit 12 straight free throws in the final four minutes to hold off the Islanders.

Despite losing the turnover battle, 18-13, and the rebounding battle, 39-36, the Lions still managed to control the tempo for most of the game.

“I thought our initial defense was fantastic,” said Kiefer. “We did a good job of pressuring the ball and not allowing blow-bys. We didn’t do a great job of rebounding the ball but I thought we bothered them enough and slowed them up. But when we needed rebounds late in the game, Gus came up huge for us and grabbed some rebounds for us and pushed the ball in transition when we were able to do that.”

Next up, the Lions will travel to San Antonio, Texas to face UIW (5-22, 1-9 Southland) Saturday at 4 p.m. SLU defeated UIW, 78-68, back on Jan. 29 at home as it eyes the season sweep.

Saturday’s contest will be broadcast by UIW with a live video link available at LionSports.Net. at the Southeastern men’s basketball schedule page.

An audio broadcast will be available for Saturday’s game as well at LionSports.Net/ListenLive. Live stats will be available with links located at the SLU men’s basketball schedule page.

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