Playing its first-ever Division I game in the new Dugan Wellness Center, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team wasted little time adjusting to the new digs shooting 57.4 percent from the floor with five players scoring at least 11 points in an 80-66 win over UTSA on Saturday. The game was played before a capacity crowd of 1,200.
The win raises the Islander mark to 11-9 on the season and moves them to a perfect 5-0 in the Southland Conference. UTSA drops to 11-6 on the year and is 2-2 in the conference. TAMUCC is now 7-2 all-time versus the Roadrunners.
Justin Reynolds led the Islanders in scoring with 15 points, while Kevin Palmer, Filip Toncinic, and Shamar Coombs each had 13. Tim Green added 11. It marked the first time in eight contests that Palmer was not the top scorer and ended his second streak of three 20-plus games in a row.
The Islanders never trailed in the game and jumped out to an early 13-3 lead. Toncinic, who grabbed 11 rebounds to record the first double-double of his career, scored the first four points of the game.
After a layin by Travis Gabbidon made it a 4-2 game, A&M-Corpus Christi scored nine of the game's next 10 points. A pair of buckets by Coombs sandwiched a Palmer dunk as the Islanders scored six straight. Following a free throw by Devin Gibson, Jawan Nelson drained a three-point basket to make it 13-3 just over five minutes into the game.
A&M-Corpus Christi would lead by as many as 13 in the first nine minutes with its largest lead of the half coming at 22-9. Green, who had a team-high four steals in the game with all in the first half, swiped the ball from Morris Smith and converted the hoop at the 11-minute mark.
The Roadrunners chipped their way back into the game behind Travis Gabbidon. Gabbidon, who had 16 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, scored five straight to pull UTSA to within seven at 26-19.
Josh Bonney again pulled the visitors to within seven with less than three minutes remaining in the first half as he converted a three-point play. The Islanders responded by scoring the final five points of the half for TAMUCC to lead 37-25 at the break.
Gibson, who was limited to one point in the first half, scored the first five points of the second half to pull UTSA to within seven 55 seconds into the half. He ended with eight
A&M-Corpus responded with a 22-5 run beginning with 11 straight points to lead by 24, 59-35.
Five different Islanders scored during the 11-0 burst. Palmer hit a three-point basket and Horace Bond, Reynolds, Coombs and Toncinic each had a basket to make it 48-30 with 16:15 to go. Joey Shank ended the run with a three-point basket for UTSA.
Reynolds capped the run with a pair of free throws and a three-point basket and the Islanders extended their lead to as many as 27 on a bucket by Marcus Hammonds with 5:15 left.
UTSA would not cut the lead to less than points 20 until Gabbidon scored in the paint with three minutes remaining. A pair of three-point baskets by Sei Paye in the final 51 seconds made it a three-point game.
For the game the Islanders hit 31-of-54 shots including 61.5 in the second half to overcome 26 turnovers including 13 Roadrunner steals. Led by Toncinic's 11 rebounds for his first double-double, TAMUCC out-rebounded UTSA 45-30. Reynolds added eight boards and Palmer seven to go with a game-high six assists.
The Islanders were tremendous defensively holding UTSA's top scorer Omar Johnson to a pair of free throws and 0-of-13 shooting from the floor. Johnson was 0-of-8 from behind the arc.
Gibson, who leads the nation in steals, had six of the Roadrunners 13 steals. Tim Green led the Islanders with four which is a career-high.
The Islanders are off until Saturday when they visit Sam Houston State at 2 p.m. The game will be televised by the Southland Conference Television Network.