WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was held to two points in the final seven minutes Wednesday night as Monmouth pulled away down the stretch for a 65-51 victory at the M.A.C. Center.
The Islanders, who trailed 31-21 at the intermission after scoring a season low 21 points in the first 20, rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to take a 49-46 lead on a three-point basket by Shamar Coombs.
It was their final field goal of the game managing just two free throws in the final 6-1/2 minutes. The host Hawks went on a 19-2 to close out the game. Justin Sofman had seven of his team-high 18 points during the stretch to help the Hawks pull away. He had five of his team's nine three-point baskets.
The first half started slow for both sides with the teams combining for 10 points in the first seven minutes. Monmouth began to pull away and extended its lead to 10 points twice and forced 13 Islander miscues. The last time came as Sofman hit a three-point basket at the buzzer. It was the Hawks' fifth trey of the half.
In the second half, MU extended its lead to 14 points, 43-29 on a jumper by Will Campbell after Demond Watt was called for a charge.
Kevin Palmer started a 20-4 run to by converting three straight, three-point plays making it a 45-38 game with 11:26 to go.
Palmer scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half. He added eight rebounds and four steals, while shooting 6-of-7 from the foul line. Palmer had nine turnovers for the second straight game as the Islanders finished with a season-high 25 miscues.
Justin Reynolds made it a 5-point contest, 45-40, at the 11-minute mark on a fast-break bucket.
Following a pair of free throws by Palmer, Watt converted an offensive rebound into a basket to make it a 45-44 game.
The senior Palmer swiped his fourth steal of the game near midcourt and dunked the ball to give TAMUCC its first lead of the game.
After Travis Taylor converted a pair of free throws after a foul by Reynolds for a 47-46 Monmouth advantage, Coombs nailed a three at the 7:04 mark.
Taylor would knotted the contest at 50 with a pair of foul shots after Watt hit 1-of-2 to start a 13-0 run. Sofman broke the tie with a trey at the 5:18 mark and then converted a 3-point play to make it 56-50. He made it nine points in the run with a back-breaking three with 2:21 left.
A&M-Corpus Christi would struggle with its shooting down the stretching going 0-for-6 from the floor with two turnovers. The Islanders had hit 10-of-22 shots in the second half to get back in the game.
Watt joined Palmer in double figures with 10. Reynolds led the Islanders with nine rebounds as they out-rebounded the Hawks 41-37.
Sofman was joined in double figures by Taylor who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Campbell had 13 points and Hett had 10 to go with seven assists.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Islanders, who return home at 4-6. Monmouth moves to 4-9.
A&M-Corpus Christi returns to the American Bank Center on Monday, Dec. 28 to face Oklahoma Panhandle State at 4:30 p.m. The women play Houston at 7 p.m. in a doubleheader.