Kevin Palmer scored 19 points and Jawan Nelson added a career-high 17 as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team closed out the regular season with a 79-66 win over UT Arlington at Texas Hall on Saturday. The two teams will meet for the third time this season on Thursday in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas. The game is slated for an 8:30 p.m. start
With the win, the Islanders finished the regular season with a 17-14 record overall and an 11-5 Southland Conference mark. The Mavs finish 16-13 overall and 9-7 in the conference.
A&M-Corpus Christi pulled away in the second half from UTA. Leading by two at the intermission, A&M-Corpus Christi scored the first five points of the second half capped by a three-point basket by Filip Toncinic that made it a 34-27 game.
The Mavs would twice pull to within six the last time coming on a Marquez Haynes basket just over three minutes into the second half pulling UTA to within 39-33.
While never fully shaking UT Arlington, the Islanders responded with a 10-2 run to pull out to a 14-point advantage with 13:02 left in the contest. Toncinic, who had eight points, began the run with a dunk, while Marcus Hammonds came off the bench for five points during the spurt.
UT Arlington twice pulled back to within single digits over the next five minutes including a layup by Haynes with 8:30 to go before a Nelson hit his first of three three-point baskets over the next two minutes to ice the game. His third trey of the barrage pushed the Islander lead to their largest of the game at 66-50 with 5:36 left. Nelson would finish 3-of-4 from behind the arc while TAMUCC hit 8-of-17 as a team.
Anthony Vereen, who led all players with 26 points, pulled UTA to within seven on a dunk with 4:17 left, while his three with 1:24 remaining again made it an eight-point game.
Not only were the Islanders solid from three, but A&M-Corpus created numerous free throw opportunities hitting 33-of-45 in the game for 73.3%. UTA hit a higher percentage of foul shots as it hit 79.3%, but went to the charity stripe just 29 times.
Aside from Palmer's 19 points and Nelson's 17, Shamar Coombs added 11 points going 8-of-10 from the foul line with four assists. Palmer led the Islanders with seven rebounds and two steals. Vereen was joined in double-digits by Brandon Long and Haynes who each had 15 points. Vereen had a game-high eight rebounds despite the Islanders out-rebounding the Mavs 43-32.
The game also featured a match up of the Southland Conference's top two scorers in Palmer and Vereen. Despite being out-scored 26-19, Palmer finished with 17.8 points a game to edge Vereen by a tenth of a point in all games and 19.2 to 18.8 in SLC games.