January 17, 2009

PALMER STRIKES AGAIN AS ISLANDER WIN AT BUZZER

NATCHITOCHES, La. – Kevin Palmer drove the length court and converted a layin with a tenth of a second remaining as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team won a see-saw battle over Northwestern State to move to 3-0 in the Southland Conference by the score of 69-68 Saturday afternoon at Prather Coliseum.

A&M-Corpus Christi led by five, 67-62, after a pair of Palmer free throws with 22 seconds remaining. However, Keithan Hancock hit a pair of three-point baskets in a span of six seconds to give the hosts a 68-67 lead. The second came after Tim Green was called for a turnover when the referees ruled he stepped out of bounds after receiving the inbounds pass.

With nine seconds left, Palmer took the inbound pass from Filip Toncinic and began to drive up the court as the Islanders had not timeouts. After nearly losing the ball at midcourt, the junior drove to the basket and laid the ball up. The ball rolled the circumference of the rim before falling in with a tenth of a second left.

The game-winning shot was the second of the season for Palmer with both coming in the team's two road wins. The junior, who hit a buzzer-beating three-point basket at Georgia on Dec. 22, finished with 25 points with 20 in the second half despite playing ill.

"It was just a tremendous team win," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "It was a hard fought game by both sides.

"Kevin continues to play outstanding basketball. The fact that he was playing sick makes it even more impressive."

With the win, the Islanders (9-9) move to 3-0 in the Southland Conference. The victory was their ninth of the season matching their win total from a season ago. The three-game winning streak is tied for their longest this season. Northwestern State moved to 0-3 in the SLC and is now 8-10 on the year.

The game was tight throughout with each team recording an eight-point lead.

The Islanders led by eight in the first half as they went on a 12-0 run after falling behind 4-0 to start the game. Both Green and Palmer had five points in the run.

The Demons answered later in the half with a 13-0 run to take a 23-18 lead. C.J. Clark had six points in the spurt, while Hancock added a three-point basket. The Islanders committed five turnovers in the run and missed six straight shots.

The Islanders pulled to within two on a three-point basket by Green, who had a career-high 21 points and posted the second 20-point game of his career, and a bucket by Toncinic.

A dunk with 26 seconds left by William Mosley gave the hosts a 26-22 lead which they took into the locker room.

Northwestern extended its lead to eight just over four minutes into the second half Michael McConathy scored five points in the first three minutes and Charles Clark four. A Devin White bucket at the 15:41 mark put TAMUCC behind 37-29.

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A&M-Corpus Christi answered with a 12-2 run to take its first lead of the second half.

A bucket by Horace Bond began the run before Palmer took over for a stretch. After hitting a pair of free throws, Palmer, who was 10-of-12 from the line, picked up one of his five steals and fed Green for a three-point basket making the score 39-36 in favor of NSU.

After a layup, Palmer put the Islanders in front 41-39 with a three-point play.

The lead was short-lived with Kalem Porterie's bucket with 5:44 remaining making it a 53-47 game with 5:44 left.

Toncinic, who was the third Islander in double figures with 12 points, went on a tear over the next three minutes scoring eight points as TAMUCC went on an 11-3 spurt to lead 58-56. The center hit a mid-range jumper in the lane before sandwiching a pair of three-point baskets around a three by Green.

"Filip's play down the stretch was critical," said the coach. "The threes he hit were huge."

The Islanders his 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch and appeared to be in control before Hancock's barrage of threes in the final 15 seconds.

For the game, the Islanders finished 51.1% (24-of-47) from the filed including 7-of-15 from behind arc. They were 14-of-17 from behind the line .Led by Toncinic's game-high seven boards, the Islanders won the battle of the boards 30-27 to over come 23 turnovers.

McConathy and James led the hosts with 12 points, while Porterie had 10 as the Demons hit 50% from the floor. Mosley added a game-high nine rebounds.

The Islanders return to action Wednesday when they visit Lamar at 7 p.m. They return home on Saturday for a 2 p.m. contest against UTSA. It will be played in the Dugan Wellness Center with the dedication of the building prior to the game at 10:30.