ISLANDERS HOLD OFF ROADRUNNERS IN OT FOR 5TH STRAIGHT WIN
SAN ANTONIO - Kevin Palmer scored five points in overtime and 16 in the game's final 25 minutes as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team pulled out a 66-62 road win at UTSA to move to 5-0 in the Southland Conference. Palmer finished with 18 points.
With the win the Islanders won their fifth straight and improve their league-best record the team is now 10-8 on the season. UTSA falls to 12-5 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Tied at 58 entering overtime, Palmer scored the first points converting a dunk after a steal by Terence Jones.
Following an alley-oop by UTSA's Josh Bonney after a missed three by Palmer, Demond Watt scored in the paint to give the Islanders the lead 62-60 with 1:18 left. Terry Fields had a chance to knot the game at 62 but missed the second with Watt grabbing the board.
Free throws would continue to be the difference as Palmer rolled in pair of foul shots to make it 64-61 with 29.1 seconds left. Morris Smith the IV had a chance to make it a 1-point game, 64-62 with 22.7 seconds left.
TAMUCC hit 4-of-6 in the extra period, while UTSA, the Southland leader entering the game, was 2-of-4.
Palmer made it a three-point game, 65-62, with 14.1 seconds left hitting 1-of-2 foul shots. Smith IV's three-point shot was off the mark with under three seconds left. Marcus Hammonds grabbed the board and hit 1-of-2 from the line.
Jawan Nelson and Watt kept the Islanders close overcoming foul issues to Palmer and Reynolds in the first 20 minutes. Watt finished with 10 first half point with eight in the final three minutes including a pair of three-point plays. Nelson had seven points surpassing his season-best in one half of play.
Nelson helped the Islanders to an early 9-4 lead. He scored in the paint at the 16:33 mark to give the islanders and early 4-3 lead. His three-point basket at the 13:41 mark would extend the Islander lead to 9-4.
A&M-Corpus Christi would go cold going over four minutes without a hoop as UTSA took an 11-9 lead as Smith scored five straight points. The Islanders hit just 36.8% from the field in the half, but improved to 54.2% in the second half.
The rest of the half remained close with largest lead by either team four on a basket by Richie Frolich with 2:21 left. Watt answered with a pair of three-point plays tying the game at 23.
Omar Johnson gave the Runners the lead at the intermission with a three with 45 seconds remaining.
The second half was tight throughout the first 10 minutes with neither team leading by more than three until an 8-0 run by the Islanders. LaMarr Drake hit a jumper to start the run. A jumper by Palmer and layin by Watt capped the run with the Islanders leading 52-43 with five minutes left.
The Roadrunners chipped their way back into the win. Johnson would hit 5-of-6 free throws and Smith IV a pair as UTSA went on a 12-3 run. Devin Gibson's three with 2:28 left cut the Islander lead down to a point, 55-54.
Justin Reynolds, who was limited to three minutes in the first due to fouls, drained a jumper to make it 57-54 Islander lead. He swiped a steal and had a chance to ice the game minutes later but missed the jumper.
After the teams traded a free throw apiece in the final 60 seconds, Smith IV tied the game with a three with 20 seconds left.
UTSA had a chance late to win it as Devin Gibson came up with a steal but didn't get the shot off before the buzzer.
Palmer's 18 led the Islanders while Watt finished 15 and a team-best eight rebounds as the teams each had 33. Reynolds finished with four steals and Palmer three. Watt finished with three blocks. The Islanders finished with 19 turnovers after have 13 in the first half.
UTSA had four players in double digits led by Smith the IV. Fields added 12 points, while Johnson and Gibson had 11 and 10 respectively. Fields had a game-high nine boards, while Gibson had eight. Gibson added nine assists and four steals.
The Islanders play their final non-conference game of the season this Monday when they travel to Edinburg to face Texas-Pan American. The game is slated for a 7 p.m. start.