The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team never trailed Wednesday night leading by as many as 16 points and dominating on the glass en route to a 69-60 win over Lamar in the Islanders final game at the American Bank Center this season.
Kevin Palmer led all scorers with 26 points as he posted his 12th, 20-point game of the season as the Islanders moved to 16-14, ensuring themselves a winning regular season. The Southland Conference win was their 10th of the season as they surpassed their overall win total of nine from the season before. Palmer was the lone Islander in double digits.
A&M-Corpus Christi out-rebounded the Cardinals 44 to 23, grabbing 40 rebounds for the 11th time this season and posting their largest advantage on the glass at plus-21. The Islanders had 20 offensive rebounds and 23 defensive rebounds led by Demond Watt's 12, which matched his career high from a season ago. Watt had five offensive boards alone, which was more than any player on Lamar had total and missed a double-double by one point. The dominance on the glass led to a 17-10 advantage on second-chance points.
"I thought we did a good job on offense tonight," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "We moved the ball well and played like we knew what we were doing on offense. We played with a purpose with the ball and got the ball into the hands of the people that we wanted to have it.
"We also did a good job of controlling the glass. Lamar is traditionally a strong rebounding team and it was important for us to keep them off the boards."
Lamar dropped to 15-14 with the loss and 6-9 in the Southland despite 22 points from Brandon McThay.
The contest was close early on with Jay Brown scoring a layin on the break to pull Lamar, which never led, within two at 8-6 nearly eight minutes into the game. A&M-Corpus Christi responded with a 15-3 run. Palmer had a pair of threes and Filip Toncinic had one to start the spurt. Horace Bond and Tim Green ended the run with a basket apiece as A&M-Corpus Christi led 23-9.
After the Cardinals pulled to within nine on a three-point basket by McThay with 3:44 left, Demond Watt scored on a putback to extend it back to 11 with 3:05 to go. However, the Islanders would not score again in the half as Aaron Miles layin with under 40 seconds to go made it a 29-22 game at the intermission.
Tristan Worrell pulled Lamar back to within three, 30-27, with 16:20 remaining with a jumper, but that was the closest the visitors got.
Leading 34-30 after Lamar's Ashton Hall hit a trey to make it a 34-30 game with 14:29 left, the Islanders went on a 16-6 burst to lead by 14.
Bond began the run with a putback before Palmer ran off four straights points, including a dunk after one of his three steals. After Charlie Harper hit three of four fouls shots, Justin Reynolds three made it a 44-34 game with less than 10 minutes to play.
Brown again made it a single-digit game before Tim Green's three made it 47-36 with 9:15 to go.
The Islanders would maintain an 11-point lead until the final 90 seconds when Hall's three made it 61-53.
Lamar would not get any closer as A&M-Corpus Christi hit 6-of-8 foul shots in the final 1:23.
For the game, the Islanders out-shot Lamar 44.7% to 39.6% and were 21-of-32 from the foul line. Lamar was 12-of-19 from the charity stripe. Each team hit six three-point baskets.
"Defensively, we played well tonight and kept them from doing the things they like to do," said Clark. "Offensively, they are a good three-point shooting team and we did a good job of defending their perimeter game for much of the game.
The Cardinals did force 14 turnovers while committing just eight. They out-scored the Islanders 16-4 off turnovers.
The Islanders close out the regular season with a game at UT Arlington at 4 p.m. on Saturday. TAMUCC won the first meeting 82-75 in early February.