February 18, 2009

ISLANDERS FALL DESPITE 30 BY PALMER

SAN ANTONIO – Kevin Palmer posted his second 30-point performance of the season on Wednesday night, but it wasn't enough as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team suffered its second-straight Southland Conference game 73-66 to UTSA.

With the loss, the Islanders (14-12 overall) fall to 8-3 in Southland Conference play. The loss along with a Sam Houston State loss to Lamar creates a two-way tie at the top of the West Division and a four-way tie with Nicholls State and Stephen F. Austin atop the overall league standings. UTSA is now a game back at 7-4 in the league and 16-8.

Trailing much of the contest, the Islanders who tied the game twice in the first three minutes of the second half, took their second lead of the game eight minutes into the final. Tim Green's three-point basket with 11:48 remaining pushed A&M-Corpus Christi back in front 46-44. It was Green's lone three of the game.

The game would remain within three points the remainder of the way.

A tip-in by Palmer, who tied his career-high with eight rebounds, gave the Islanders their largest lead, 56-53, with 7:20 to go. The lead would change six times from that point.

Four straight points by Morris Smith IV pushed UTSA back in the lead with 6:20 at 57-56. The teams would trade baskets over the 90 seconds before a free throw by Travis Gabbidon made it a 62-60 in favor of the hosts with 4:23 left.

After the team's again traded two points, Shamar Coombs, who had 11 points, hit a three-point basket with 3:38 remaining to make it 65-64.

A&M-Corpus Christi scored one point the rest of the way. The Islanders went 0-for-4 from the field and 1-of-2 from the line. UTSA finished 3-of-5 from the floor.

In the first half, Palmer kept the Islanders close scoring 13 points including 11 of the team's first 15 points. He added four assists in the first half as he accounted for 21 of the team's 28 first half points.

After falling behind by 14, 23-9, midway through the first half, A&M-Corpus Christi went on a 17-7 run to pull within four with 1:39 remaining. The Islanders turned the defense up holding the Roadruunners to five points over the final 7:35 seconds. UTSA hit just three of its final 13 shots in the half after opening the game hitting 11-of-21.

With the Roadrunners slowed, Palmer sandwiched a pair baskets around a Shamar Coombs jumper. After a basket by Leslie Jackson, Justin Reynolds drained a three-point basket to make it a nine-point game.

After a Smith IV jumper with 7:35 left in the half, UTSA would go over five minutes without a hoop. The Islanders, meanwhile, went on an 8-1 run. Demond Watt scored off Palmer assist to begin the run followed by pair of foul shots by Jawan Nelson. After a Omar Johnson free throw, Filip Toncinic and Watt each scored in the paint the latter a dunk with 1:39 off a Palmer assist to make it a 30-26 contest. The half would end 34-38.

The Islanders finished the game hitting 41.4% of their shots, while UTSA hit 43.3%. The Islanders turned the ball over 18 while forcing 13 turnovers.

While Palmer and Coombs scored 30 and 11, respectively, no other Islander had more than Watt's seven. Palmer's eight rebounds led the team and he also had five assists.

Devin Gibson led UTSA with 14 points, while Smith IV had 11. Travis Gabbidon and Chris Allen 10 each. Demarco Stepter had nine points and eight rebounds.

A&M-Corpus Christi returns home to host McNeese State on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the American Bank Center.