The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team was missing a pair of starters Wednesday night, but pulled together for an impressive 89-64 win over Texas State at the American Bank Center to move to 2-0 in the Southland Conference.
The Islanders, who are 8-9 on the season and 4-1 at home, played without Demond Watt, who missed the game with an ankle sprain, and LaMarr Drake. Drake is ineligible for the remainder of the season due to academics after starting the first 16 games at the point.
For the third time this season, four A&M-Corpus Christi players scored in double digits and the Islanders played strong defense all night to hold Texas State (8-7, 1-1) to its lowest output of the season. The Bobcats entered the game averaging 90.1 points which was third highest in the NCAA Division I ranks.
"I have never been any more proud of team because of the way they played than I am tonight," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "We've been through a lot of adversity and I think through that the guys grown to believe in each other and trust each other.
"This wasn't a win out of talent or X's and O's. This was a heart win."
A&M-Corpus Christi trailed 4-0 just over a minute into the game, but scored seven straight points to lead 7-4. The Bobcats tied the game at seven on a three-point basket by Corey Jefferson.
Moments before becoming the second Islander along with Filip Toncinic with two fouls in the game's first three-plus minutes, Kevin Palmer, who led all players with 21 points, broke the tie with a three-point basket to start a 5-0 run.
Horace Bond hit a pair of free throws to make it a 12-7 game with 14 minutes to go in the half. Bond finished with nine points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Brent Benson, who came into the game averaging 18.9 points a game, scored a fast-break bucket to make it a three-point game, 12-9. Benson would not score again and the Bobcats would get no closer the rest of the game.
Leading by five, 23-18, after Texas State's Jonathan Bowman hit a three, the Islanders went on a 10-4 run capped by a three-point basket by Tim Green to take their first double-digit lead of the game at 33-22 with 5:41 left in the half. Green tallied 15 points on the night to tie his season-high.
A pair of Ryan White free throws pulled the Bobcats back to within nine, 33-24, but A&M-Corpus Christi ended the half with a 13-2 run over the final 4:59.
Marcus Hammonds topped the run with three straight points. Hammonds made the first of two free throws with six seconds left and then missed the second. He hustled for the rebound on the miss and converted the putback. The Hammonds' bucket gave the Islanders a 46-26 advantage at the intermission. He finished with career-highs in points and rebounds with 13 and 11, respectively.
John Rybak's three-point basket 2:22 into the second half cut the Islander lead to 17, 50-33, but the Cats would get no closer.
A&M-Corpus Christi would twice extend its lead to as many as 31 points.
The Islanders shot 45.9% for the game and were 25-of-35 from the foul line. They out-rebounded Texas Sate 51-35.
Ty Gough led the visitors with 10 points as they finished just 30% from the field. Texas State, which nine steals, was 21-of-29 from the foul line.
The Islanders hit the road for the first time this season in Southland action as they hit the road for two straight. They visit Northwestern State on Saturday at 2 p.m. before visiting Lamar next Wednesday at 7 p.m.