Bryson Etienne leads Texas Southern to First Four victory after defeating Islanders 76-67
March 16, 2022
On Tuesday, Bryson Etienne scored 21 points as Texas Southern defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 76-67 in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament.
The win marks the third NCAA Tournament win for the team and sends Texas Southern to the Midwest Region, where it will play against Kansas on Thursday.
According to Etienne, he and his teammates are just like the other men on the court. They're not afraid to show their emotions during March Madness.
"I feel like anybody can go to any big school," the 22 years old player said. "We're men just like them. We put our shoes on like them, pants, shirt. It's March Madness, so madness can happen."
Trailing by two points with six minutes to play, the Tigers went on a run highlighted by a pair of free throws by PJ Henry. Henry finished the game with 14 points, ten of them coming from the free-throw line.
Texas Southern then turned up the defensive pressure, which caused the Islanders to go without a field goal for over five minutes. The 15-made free throws of the team allowed them to pull away from the game.
According to head coach Johnny Jones of Texas Southern, the team's intense defensive pressure was the key to the victory.
"One of the things we talked about was playing extremely hard every second, every play," Jones said. "It took that against that team to be able to finish down the stretch."
John Walker III scored 16 points, and Brison Gresham grabbed 13 rebounds for the Tigers. Gresham also contributed with six points to secure the win.
Texas Southern floors the gas on second half
The Tigers outrebounded the Islanders by a significant margin, and they held them to a 25-13 advantage in the second half. On the other hand, the Islanders went with a mere seven field goals in the second half.
Gresham, who transferred from Houston last season, grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds. Coach Jones praised Gresham for his leadership abilities and stated that he is a great defensive player.
"He came in with zero ego and has shown a great deal of leadership with their basketball team and he's a very impactful player defensively," the 60 years old coach said. "He's one of those guys that gives you what is needed."
During the second half of the game, Etienne scored 13 of his 21, and Henry had 12 points. The team's shooting percentage increased from 40 percent to 44 percent after halftime in the first half.
When the team comes out, they try to play hard and prepare for their opponents' defensive intensity. "Any time we come out, we just try to play hard," the 6-foot03 senior guard said on his team's performance. "We know guys are going to try to play hard against us, so we just try to prepare for that and exceed their energy."
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi falls short
The Islanders led for most of the first half, but the lead got snatched and grew to four points right after halftime.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has three players scoring double-digit. Trevian Tennyson scored 18 points, Simeon Fryer had 12, and Terrion Murdix chipped in 10.
The Islanders struggled at the rim, especially in the second half. According to coach Steve Lutz, their poor decisions at the basket ultimately cost them the game.
"We weren't going to be able to finish things at the rim because they've got really good shot blockers," Lutz said. "At times we did that, but at times we really didn't make good decisions at the rim."