EVANSTON, Ill. The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team made a late run to pull to within 10 points with less than seven minutes to go but couldn't overcome 17 turnovers in falling 66-48 to Northwestern on Wednesday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The loss drops the Islander record to 1-2 on the season with both losses coming to teams out of the Big 10 Conference. Northwestern is now 2-0 on the season with both wins against teams from the Southland Conference.
"Offensively, we have got to get better," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "We turned the ball over a lot tonight giving Northwestern too many easy points. I thought we tried to rush things and didn't play the patient type of basketball that we needed to."
Trailing by as many as 22 in the second half, the Islanders were down 21 with 12:38 to go. After a basket by Kevin Coble, who led all players with 18 points, A&M-Corpus Christi embarked on a 14-3 run to make it a 10-point game with 6:58 left..
After a Filip Toncinic free throw, Tim Green dropped in his only three-point basket of the game followed by a LaMarr Drake jumper with 10:42. Green made it a 53-40 contest with an old-fashioned three-point play as he was fouled on a drive to the basket. The senior from Chicago added his eighth point of the run to make it a 10-point game.
"In the second half, we played better and made a run like we thought we would," said Clark. "We had a chance to pull closer. We just need someone to step up and make the big shot."
They could get no closer scoring just three points the rest of the way with all three points coming from the foul line.
Much like the Illinois game on Sunday, the Islanders enjoyed an early five-point lead as Toncinic began the scoring with a pair of free throws as he made his first career start. Kevin Palmer, who finished with 10 points in the first half and led the team with a career-high 14, followed with a three-point basket at the 17:47 mark.
The Islanders led by four, 7-3, after a Demond Watt dunk, but cooled off after that. A&M-Corpus Christi would manage four points the next eight-plus minutes. Watt hit a pair of free throws before a drive by Green at the 11:37 mark made it a 17-11.
During the span, the Cats outscored the Islanders 22-4 and led 25-11 with less than nine minutes remaining in the half. Craig Moore, who led Northwestern with 11 first half points and had 14 overall, and All-Big 10 guard Coble each had six in the run. The Wildcats pushed their lead to 19 on basket by Michael Thompson with 5:46 to go in the half.
A&M-Corpus Christi went on a 7-0 run to pull within 11 with 2:13 left in the half. After a fast-break basket by Kevin Perkins, Palmer hit his second three-point basket of the half. Following 1-of-2 free throws by Toncinic, the Islanders had a chance to pull within 10, but Horace Bond was called for a travel.
John Shurna and the Cats answered with a 7-0 run to close the half. Shurna had five points in the half-ending spurt to give NU a 39-21 lead at the intermission.
The Cats turned the 17 Islander turnovers into 26 points, while the Islanders had nine off nine Northwestern miscues.
Palmer and Green led the Islanders with 14 and 11 points, respectively. Watt and Toncinic each grabbed six boards, while Northwestern's Shurna had nine to go with his 17 points.
The Islanders stay on the road as they travel to Tulsa for a Sunday game at 3 p.m.