HARD-FIGHTING ISLANDERS BATTLE HOUSTON UNTIL THE END, BUT FALL AT END
HOUSTON - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team battled until the end with Houston, but couldn't get over the hump falling 83-76 to the Cougars at Hofheinz Pavilion on Sunday afternoon.
The Islanders battled back from a 10-point deficit with 9:17 remaining to pull within a pair of points twice, but could not regain the lead. With the loss, A&M-Corpus Christi moves to 4-4 on the season. Houston moves to 4-2 on the year.
"I thought we played extremely hard and was proud of our effort," said Islander head coach Perry Clark, whose team shot 60% from the floor in the second half and 50% for the game. "Houston is the best team we've faced thus far, but I thought we did a good job of staying with our game plan. The team never quit and was relentless."
After Adam Brown hit a mid-range jumper to make it a 63-53 contest, A&M-Corpus Christi heated up from behind the arc. The Islanders, which began the second half 7-of-7 from the three-point range before missing two in the final minute, scored eight straight points to make it a 63-61 contest with 7:49 remaining.
Kevin Palmer and Filip Toncinic hit back-to-back three-point baskets to start the run. Demond Watt capped the run with a put-back bucket with 7:49 left.
Aubrey Coleman ended the run with a dunk as the nation's second-leading scorer entering the week finished with 29 points. He extended the lead to seven points, 70-63, for the Cougars with one of his five three-point buckets before Brown struck again with a jumper.
Trailing 72-63, Toncinic hit his second three-point basket of the game. Terence Jones connected on his third to make it 72-69 before Coleman struck again with three minutes remaining.
Palmer and Kelvin Lewis traded three-point plays as the Islanders kept within six with two minutes left.
Palmer, who had 18 of his 22 points in the second half, scored four straight points to make it a two-point contest, 78-76, with 1:24 left. The Islanders would not score again.
A&M-Corpus Christi missed four field goal attempts and had a two of its season-high 22 turnovers in the final minute.
"We gave ourselves a chance down the stretch because the guys never gave up," said Clark. "In the end, we had too many turnovers, which part of how Houston plays. We need to learn from those mistakes."
In the end, the Islanders were outscored 39-19 on turnovers.
In the first half, the Islanders led early, but Houston used its pressure defense to take the lead and led by as many as nine in the first half. The Cougars scored 18 of their first 24 points off Islander turnovers.
A&M-Corpus Christi, which held a 44-28 advantage on the glass for the game, would battle back to within a point at the break, 33-32. The Islanders closed out the half with a 12-5 run. Justin Reynolds, Demond Watt, Horace Bond and Shamar Coombs each scored in the paint, while Jones hit 3-of-4 from the foul line.
Palmer led four Islanders in double digits with 22 points. Jones added 14 points, while Watt added 12 and Reynolds 11. Bond tied his career-best with 12 rebounds, while Watt and Palmer each had eight. Four Islanders had four assists - Jones, Toncinic, Watt and Palmer. Palmer added four assists, while Reynolds tied his best with four blocks.
Aside from Coleman's 29, Lewis had 22 points and four steals. Brown finished with 14.
The Islanders are off until traveling to Ohio for a contest at Kent State on Dec. 20 before a Dec. 23 at Monmouth.