PALMER'S LATE FREE THROWS PUSH ISLANDERS TO WIN
THIBODAUX, La. -- For the third time this season, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi junior Kevin Palmer stepped up with the game on the line hitting a pair of foul shots with three seconds remaining to give the Islanders a 69-68 win against Nicholls at Stopher Gymnasium on Saturday. He scored five points in the final 39 seconds.
With the Colonels leading 68-67 after a pair of Justin Payne free throws with 17 seconds left after Demond Watt was called for a foul going for a loose ball, A&M-Corpus Christi played for the final shot. With just under six seconds left, Palmer drove to the basket and was rushed by a handful of defenders. Palmer would go to the line as Kellan Carter was called for the block.
Palmer calmly hit the first free throw to tie the game. After his teammates had been pulled off the line, Palmer, who hit game-winning shots at Georgia and Northwestern earlier this season, won the contest with the second.
The junior guard, who struggled much of the game, had given the Islanders a 67-66 lead with less than 39 seconds to go. Palmer set a pick and curled off of it to set up for a three-point basket on a Justin Reynolds assist.
"I had been struggling but I just tried to keep my composure," said Palmer after coming up big in the final seconds. "I just tried to keep my focus on the line and not thing about anything else."
With the win in a game that saw 17 lead changes, the Islanders (13-10) moved to 7-1 on the year in the league and handed the East-Division co-leaders their third Southland Conference loss. A&M-Corpus Christi surpasses its SLC win total from a season ago. Nicholls falls to 13-9 overall and 6-3 in the league.
"This was a great team win for us in a tough environment," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "Jawan (Nelson) off the bench was huge with his offense and Tim (Green) was outstanding.
"Both teams competed very hard. Nicholls has a great command of their offense and we knew they would have confidence coming in after beating Stephen F. Austin in its last outing."
Palmer's stretch allowed the Islanders to overcome a cold spell in which the Colonels built a five-point lead on three-point basket by Anatoly Bose with 5:14 left. Shamar Coombs pulled the visitors to within three with a pair of foul shots and Filip Toncinic hit 1-of-2.
After Ryan Bathie went 1-of-2 at the line, Tim Green came up big. After saving an errant pass from Palmer, Green turned made two dribbles and hit a three-point basket in the face of a defender to knot the game at 62.
Green struck again moments later following bucket by NSU's Payne. The lone Islander senior tracked down a rebound and kicked the ball out to Coombs. Green then cut to the basket and was given the ball back for a layin tying the game at 64 with 79 seconds left.
The largest lead by either team was six early in the second by the Islanders, who led 35-33 at the intermission. After Bathie picked up his fourth foul less than a minute into the game, TAMUCC went on a 6-2 run capped by a Shamar Coombs layin to make the score 41-35 with 17:23 left.
Fred Hunter brought the Colonels back as the hosts went on a 10-2 run to take a 45-43 lead. Hunter had seven of his game-high 25 points in the spurt. Bose hit a three in the right corner during the run as well.
Neither team would lead by more than three until Bose's trey with under five left.
The first half was a three-point shootout with each team hitting six and each team leading by five at one point. Toncinic led the Islanders with 11 points in the first 20 minutes including two threes. Jawan Nelson had a three-point basket and converted a three-point play, while Green came off the bench with a pair of threes. Hunter had a pair of threes for the hosts in the first 20 minutes, while four others had one.
Green and Nelson led the way with 14 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench as the Islander bench outscored the hosts 33-6. Toncinic added 12 and Palmer 10. A&M-Corpus Christi was solid from the line hitting 15-of-18, while Nicholls was 16-of-23.
Joining the freshman Hunter in double digits were Bose with 15 and Bathie with 13.