ATHENS, GA. Kevin Palmer banked in a three-point shot at the buzzer to push Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to an 80-79 overtime win over defending Southeastern Conference Tournament Champion Georgia on Monday night at Stegeman Coliseum.
"The biggest thing we talked about before the game was how to handle the disappointment of the Savannah State game," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "We came out and played with tremendous energy the whole game. They made a couple of runs but we kept our composure the whole game. We stayed with our defense which was important.
"I was proud of the performance the guys put forth and Kevin hit a big shot. I would have been proud of the team for the effort they showed whether we had hit the shot or not."
With just over three second remaining, the Bulldogs' Dustin Ware was fouled to stop the clock by Demond Watt with 3.5 seconds remaining. After Ware hit the first foul shot, he missed the second attempt with Islander Filip Toncinic pulling the rebound down and calling time out.
After the referees put the clock back to 2.7, Palmer received the ball made a few dribbles and launched a half-court shot that banked off the glass and dropped in as the red light came on. The win evened the Islander record at 6-6 on the year and was their first in six tries over a Southeastern Conference school and seventh over a BCS school. The Islanders have also beat South Florida twice and Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Baylor and Florida State once each.
With the victory the Islanders move to 6-6 and have won their last three overtime games. Georgia falls to 7-4 and had a streak of eight overtime wins in a row snapped including an OT win on Saturday against Wofford as Zac Swansey hit a three to win the game at the horn.
The Islanders led throughout overtime and led 75-70 on a pair of Tim Green free throws. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie led the hosts back. Thompkins hit a three-point basket with under 90 seconds to make it 75-73.
After a layin by Green, Georgia scored five straight points to take a 78-77 advantage with 30 seconds left. Leslie began the run with a free throw followed by Thompkins bucket. Leslie gave his team its first lead in OT with a layin.
Palmer had a chance with about 11 seconds left to give the lead back to his team but the Bulldogs grabbed the loose ball after an errant shot. The Islanders were forced to foul to extend the game.
Palmer's game winner capped a career game. The newcomer scored 31 points in the game, which is the most by an Islander this season and is the most points since Chris Daniels tallied 34 at Central Arkansas during the 2006-07 season. The junior was 10-of-22 from the floor and 6-of-11 from behind the arc including 5-of-8 from three in the final 20 minutes.
Palmer also broke the school record for steals in a game swiping seven. The previous mark was six which he matched earlier this season at TCU and had been achieved five times before this season but not since the 2001 season.
"Palmer played the way tonight that we told him he can play," said Clark. "The shot was huge and the play we drew up in the huddle worked."
The Islanders fell behind 8-0 early and were forced to play catch up much of the first half trailing by as many as 12 at 23-11. They had nine of their 13 first half turnovers in the first eight minutes.
A&M-Corpus Christi pulled to within three, 28-25, at the intermission thanks to a 14-5 run. Justin Reynolds scored the first five points of the run and Palmer capped it with a three. In between, Green, Jawan Nelson and Demond Watt all tallied.
In the second half, Georgia extended its lead to eight, 40-32, early on a basket by Leslie, but Toncinic drove to the basket from the top of the key to begin an 11-1 run to give the visitors their first lead of the game. Watt scored six consecutive points during the run before Palmer hit a three for a 43-41 Islander advantage.
Six straight points by Ware, who led Georgia with 22, returned the lead back to UGA. Georgia would lead by as many as five after that point with five minutes to go.
A&M-Corpus Christi would take its second lead, 59-58, of the game with 2:49 left on a pair of foul shots by Watt. The Islanders were 13-of-16 from the foul in the second half and overtime.
Georgia regained the lead on jumper by Leslie with 2:33 to go. After a free throw by Chris Barnes made it a two-point contest, Shamar Coombs drained a three-point basket for his first points as an Islander for a 62-61 Islander lead. Toncinic's foul shot with less than two minutes to go made it two-point game.
Ware and Palmer exchanged three-point baskets in the final 90 seconds. Palmers' put TAMUCC in front 66-64 with 48 seconds left.
Ware tied the game with 39 seconds left on a drive to the basket.
The Islanders had one last chance as the clock ran down in regulation but Coombs was unable to get the shot off.
Aside from Palmer's 31, Watt finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 field goals and a team-high seven rebounds. Coombs finished with a career-high four assists. For the Bulldogs, Leslie and Thompkins joined Ware in double digits. Leslie had 19 points and Thompkins 13. Corey Butler had a game-high nine rebounds, while Leslie had eight as the Bulldogs won the rebounding war 44-36.
Both teams finished with 25 turnovers and 14 steals. Joining Palmer with multiple steals for the Islanders were Reynolds, Coombs, and Toncinic with two apiece. Swansey and Leslie each had five steals for Georgia.
The Islanders will now take a short break for Christmas before heading to SMU for a game at 2 p.m. on New Year's Eve day.