SAN MARCOS - Four Texas A&M-Corpus Christi players scored in double digits as the Islander men's basketball team held off Texas State 68-59 at Strahan Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Kevin Palmer struggled from the floor but was a solid 12-of-15 from the foul line as he finished with 15 points. Justin Reynolds added 14, Terence Jones 11 and Demond Watt 10.
The win moved the Islanders to 2-0 in the Southland and to within a game of .500 at 7-8. Texas State drops to 7-9 and 1-1 in the SLC.
A&M-Corpus Christi led by 12 at the intermission and bolted out of the locker room taking an 18-point lead just over five minutes into the second half at 45-27 on a Reynolds' three and a Watt dunk.
"I was most impressed with how we started the second half," said Islander head coach Perry Clark. "We knew we would get their best shot in the second half so it was important to get our lead up. If we make our free throws in the middle of the half, there is no comeback. At the end I was pleased with how we kept our composure."
The Bobcats responded with a 9-0 run to cut the Islander lead in half. Tony Bishop came off the bench to score four points in the run, while Cameron Johnson capped the spurt with a three-point play at the 11:35 mark. The play pulled the hosts to within 45-36 with 11:35 remaining.
The lead would remain between six and nine points until John Rybak hit his only three-point bucket of the game to make it 53-50 with 4:58 left. Rybak finished 1-of-9 from behind the arc and 2-of-10 from the floor.
The Bobcats would get no closer.
Terence Jones responded to the run with a slicing basket that resulted in a three-point play for the freshman for a 56-50 Islander lead. After a Bishop dunk, Palmer hit a pair of free throws with 2:52 left for a 58-52 advantage.
A pair of free throws by Rybak with 2:23 left pulled Texas State back to within four, 58-54. The Bobcats had a chance to pull even closer from the charity stripe as Cameron Johnson was fouled following a miss by Palmer. Johnson hit the first foul shot to make it 58-55, but missed the second.
Horace Bond pulled down the layup and Reynolds converted the bucket at the other end powering through the three defenders. Reynolds added a free throw for a 61-55 lead with 1:34 remaining.
Reynolds sealed the win with his third steal of the game. The Islanders ran the clock down and scored on a Watt dunk with a minute left.
Despite being without Palmer much of the opening half as he played less than nine minutes with two charging fouls, the A&M-Corpus Christi built a 12-point lead by the intermission. Jones and Hammonds picked up the slack on the outside. Jones had eight points in the first half, while Marcus Hammonds added seven.
"Marcus was tremendous tonight," said Clark. "He made some big shots and handled the ball well. He also did a good job on Rybak. LaMarr (Drake) also showed a lot of composure and I thought Shamar (Coombs) had a good floor game. Against a team that forces as many turnovers as Texas State does you have to be steady on the perimeter."
A&M-Corpus Christi hit 50% from the floor in the first 20 minutes going 14-of-28, while limiting the Bobcats to 30.8% (8-of-26). For the game, A&M-Corpus Christi out-shot the Bobcats 45.8% to 36.8%. The Islanders had eight steals in the half and 12 in the game and forced 21 total turnovers. Palmer joined Reynolds with three thefts in the game and the Islanders converted the miscues into 23 points. Texas State forced 19 miscues but managed just 11 points.
Led by Johnson, the Bobcats won the rebounding war 35-33. It was just the fourth time all season the Islanders were out-rebounded. Johnson finished with 13 points and nine boards to lead Texas State.
The Islanders return to Stripes Court on Saturday when they open the home portion of their Southland Conference schedule with Northwestern State at 7 p.m. They will remain at home to host Lamar on Wednesday at 7 p.m.