December 6, 2008

HORNED FROGS SNAP ISLANDER WINNING STREAK AT THREE

FT. WORTH – It was a tale of two halves Saturday afternoon as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi led by as many as 11 in the first half, but a surge by TCU in the second half proved to be the difference as the Islanders had their winning streak snapped at three with a 66-53 loss at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.

The loss snapped the Islanders longest winning streak since the 2006-07 season at three and evened their record at 4-4. TCU improved to 6-3 under first-year coach Jim Christian. It was their fifth-straight win.

"I thought we played good basketball today," said Islander coach Perry Clark. "We did what we wanted to do most of the game. There was a five-minute stretch where we broke down defensively and couldn't stop them. I thought we missed a bunch of second-chance opportunities that could have stemmed the tide."

In the first half, the Islanders fell behind 3-0 as Keion Mitchem opened the game with a three-point basket but took the lead with six straight points. Justin Reynolds and Horace Bond each scored second-chance baskets before a jumper by Kevin Palmer made it a 6-3 Islander lead four minutes in to the game.

Kevin Langford pulled the hosts back to within a point at 7-6 when he converted 1-of-2 free throws with 14:43 to go as Reynolds picked up his second foul.

A&M-Corpus Christi would answer going on a 13-2 run taking a 20-8 lead with just over eight minutes to go in the half. The Islander run was sparked by its work on the boards and on defense.

After Tim Green's layup was ruled good because of goaltending, Jawan Nelson scored on a move in the low post and then on a putback. Demond Watt and Green followed by scoring on Islander misses before a dunk by Palmer, who had five steals in the first 20 minutes, made it a 20-8 lead.

Seven straight points by the Horned Frogs' Langford made it a 20-15 game with 5:15 left in the half.

A&M-Corpus Christi quickly pushed its lead back to double figures with a 6-0 burst. After a dunk by Palmer off a steal, Drake put back his own miss. A pair of free throws by Palmer upped the team's advantage to 26-15 with 3:12.

Palmer finished the first half with five steals. He added one in the second half to tie a school record of six which has been accomplished multiple times but not since Armond Wainwright had six versus Belmont on Jan. 20, 2001.

The Islanders would take a 30-22 lead into the locker room as they out-scored TCU 13-2 off turnovers and 10-4 on second chance points. They limited their opponent to under 37% shooting in the first 20 minutes.

In the second half, everything that went right for the Islanders in the first 20 minutes seemed to go against them in the second half combined with an increased shooting percentage by the Frogs, who shot 60.9% in the second half.

Less than four minutes into second half the Islanders found themselves up nine 37-28 following a dunk by Watt.

Leading 39-34 following a bucket by Drake when he tallied after grabbing a loose ball underneath the basket, the Islanders would go cold from the field the next eight allowing TCU to go on an 18-2 run and take an 11-point lead , 52-41, with under seven minutes remaining. Mitchem capped the run with the final five points while Langford struck for four points. Edvinas Ruzgas added a three-point basket.

The Islanders pulled back to within seven, 52-45, with five minutes left as Watt hit his first of two free throws.

Back-to-back three point baskets by Zvonko Buljan and Ruzgas made it a 13-point game with 4:20 left.

A three-point conversion by Green made it a 10-point game with 2:59 to go but the Islanders. Ronnie Moss ended the Islanders hope with the fifth three-pointer of the half by TCU to make it a 63-50 contest.

For the game, the Islanders finished with season-low 12 turnovers but hit just 33.3% from the floor. TAMUCC also held a 40-36 advantage on the boards including a 22-7 advantage on the offensive end, but struggled at the foul line. The team was 7-of-16 from the stripe, while TCU was 17-of-22.

Palmer and Drake led the Islanders with 13 points apiece, while TCU's Langford led all players with 20. Moss and Mitchem had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Watt and Bond led the Islanders with seven rebounds apiece. Buljan had a game-high nine.

"We did a lot of good things in this game," said Clark. "We just didn't execute well at some critical times."

The Islanders return home to the American Bank Center for their next two games. They host Texas A&M International on Monday at 7 p.m. before Oklahoma State visits Stripes Court on Sunday at 3 p.m.