BALANCED EFFORT LEADS TO ISLANDERS SECOND WIN
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND Led by Kevin Palmer's career-high 20 points and personal-best eight rebounds, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team had four players score in double digits as the Islanders used an all-around team performance to snap a three-game losing streak with a 73-63 win over Jackson State on Friday afternoon at the South Padre Island Invitational.
The win raises the Islander record to 2-3 on the season, while Jackson State falls to 0-5. A&M-Corpus Christi faces UNC-Wilmington, who won 79-64 over North Carolina Central in Saturday's second game at the South Padre Island Convention Center. The game is slated to begin at 2 p.m.
The Islanders posted their second most points of the season with 73 on 50-percent shooting. Joining Palmer in double digits were Justin Reynolds with 12, Filip Toncinic with a career-high 11 points, and Tim Green with 10.
"I thought it was a fine team effort in every phase," said Islander head coach Perry Clark "I thought our team defense was really good especially in the second half. Offensively, I thought we did a really good job of sharing the ball."
The foursome allowed the Islanders to overcome the play of Jackson State's Grant Maxey and Darrion Griffin. The Tiger duo combined for 43 points. Maxey led the way with 22 and Griffin had 21. JSU began the game shooting 70 percent in the half, but the Islanders defense stiffened in the second half limiting them to 21.9%.
The Islanders led early as Palmer, who was limited to four minutes due to foul trouble in the opening half, appeared to find his shooting stroke hitting back-to-back threes. Palmer, who was limited to just four points at Tulsa marking the first time in his young Islander career that he did not reach double digits, gave the Islanders a 10-5 lead with his second trey with 17:32 remaining in the half.
Nine straight points by the Tigers put Jackson State in front to take a 14-10 lead as De'Suan Dixon drained a three-point basket just under five minutes into the game. Tim Green hit a free throw attempt to stem the tide, but eight straight points by the Tigers' Darrion Griffin put A&M-Corpus Christi down 22-11 with just over 12 minutes to go. JSU hit its first 10 shots of the game.
The Islanders chipped their way back into the game pulling to with seven 24-17 with a 6-2 run. After a bucket in the paint by Reynolds, Demond Watt converted a dunk and a layin. Watt would finish with a season-high eight points.
Back-to-back three-point baskets by Antonio Topps and LaMarr Drake knotted the game at 27 with just over four minutes left in the half.
After a trey by Garrison Johnson, Green hit the fifth three of the half for the Islanders to tie the game at 30. TAMUCC would score the final four points of the half on baskets by Reynolds and Jawan Nelson.
The Islanders continued the run into the final 20 minutes.
A&M-Corpus Christi opened the second half with the first eight points. Reynolds scored twice in the first four minutes of the half and Filip Toncinic added three points. Reynolds second basket gave the Islanders a 44-34 lead five minutes into the half.
After a dunk by JSU's Chris Hyche, Palmer scored four straight points as the team took a 14-point lead, 50-36, with less than 13 minutes to go.
Jackson State's Griffin and Maxey tried to will their team back into the game. Griffin scored three straight points. Maxey, who was a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line in the game, connected on five straight shots from the charity stripe. The last made it a 6-point game at 52-46 with 11:17 to go.
The Islanders responded with six straight points to lead 58-46 with 9:49 left. A dunk by Watt began the spurt. Watt capped the burst with his eighth point of the game after a hoop by Palmer to extend the Islander lead back to double digits.
Dixon converted a three-point play to pull the Tigers back to within nine, but they would get no closer the rest of the game.
For the game, the Islander defense forced 29 turnovers the most by an opponent this season including a team-high 14 steals. Palmer and Green led the way with three steals each. Toncincic added two blocks.