OXFORD, Miss - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team made a second half charge, but was unable to completely overcome a 40-23 halftime deficit falling 73-58 to Mississippi on Sunday at Tad Smith Coliseum.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Islanders who are now 4-3 on the season. Ole Miss, a favorite to win the Southeastern Conference West Division, improved to 5-1 on the season.
"We got off to a bad start and I don't know why," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "I am not sure if it was stage fright or what, but they took advantage of our start. Their defense was better than what it looked like on film and they took us out of what we were trying to do.
"I was pleased that the guys kept fighting and picked it up down the stretch. We gave ourselves a chance late because we didn't give up."
Leading by 17 at the break, the Rebels opened the final half with a rare four-point play and extended their lead to as many as 26 points, 59-33, on a basket by Terrance Henry at the 13:18 mark. Henry, who averaged less than a point game coming in, finished with 12 points.
The Islanders tried to rally as Kevin Palmer and his teammates heated up offensively. The TAMUCC leading scorer would score 12 of his game-high 23 points following the Henry bucket as the Islanders outscored the Rebels 25-14 the rest of the way. Palmer hit three, three-point baskets and converted a three-point play. Palmer's final three made it an 11-point game with 2:07 remaining.
A&M-Corpus Christi had a chance to make it single digits moments later but Chris Warren swiped the eighth steal of the game for Ole Miss. Warren would convert the bucket ending the Islander hopes for good. Ole Miss outscored A&M-Corpus Christi 17-3 off turnovers as they forced the Islanders into 14 miscues while committing just six.
"I thought we had a couple of chances late that would've change the look of the game even more," said Clark. "We need to learn how to play for 40 minutes.
Warren and Terrico White, who each received All-SEC recognition in the preseason, finished with 19 points apiece to lead Ole Miss.
Justin Reynolds added four points of his nine points off the bench down the stretch, while Shamar Coombs and Jawan Nelson each knocked down three-point baskets.
The Islanders struggled early in the first half hitting just two of its first 12 shots from the floor, while Ole Miss hit 6-of-12 - including a pair of three-point baskets - to jump out to a 17-4 lead just over six minutes into the game.
A&M-Corpus Christi pulled to within 10 points with just over six minutes to go in the opening half on a putback by Coombs, but could get no closer. The Islanders hit just 31% from the floor in the first half.
For the game, A&M-Corpus Christi hit 40.4% from the flooring after hitting a sizzling 52.2% in the second half. After hitting one three in the first half, the Islanders were 6-of-11 in the second half. Ole Miss finished the game with a 42.9% from the floor.
The rebounding war was nearly even. Ole Miss won the battle 38-36. Palmer led all players with seven rebounds, while Demond Watt, who battled foul trouble, added six. Eniel Polynice and DeAundre Cranston each had six rebounds to lead the Rebels.
The Islanders are off until next Sunday when they travel to Houston to face the Cougars. The game is slated for a 2 p.m. tip.