Kevin Palmer became the sixth player to reach 1,000 points in a career, but it wasn't enough as for the second straight-season Sam Houston State snapped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's five-game Southland Conference winning streak to start a season with a 70-58 win on Stripes Court Saturday night. The "Battle of Unbeatens" was played before a season-high crowd of 2,461.
With the loss, the Islanders fall to 11-9 on the season and 5-1 in league play. It also snapped the team's 6-game win streak and 6-game streak at home. Sam Houston State remains unbeaten in the league at 6-0, while moving to 14-5 overall.
Palmer and Justin Reynolds each had 14 points for the Islanders, who could not get over the hump in the second half. Corey Allmond led five Bearkats in double figures with 16 points, while Ashton Mitchell added 15. Gilberto Clavell and Lance Pevehouse each knocked in 11 with Preston Brown scoring 10.
In the first half, the Islanders came out on fire breaking a 4-all tie with an 18-5 run.
Palmer opened the scoring with a three-point play nearly five minutes into the game. Demond Watt then converted a steal by Terence Jones for a 9-4 lead at the 14:52 mark.
The run continued for the Islanders with a dunk by Watt on a putback followed by a Palmer three. Palmer's three pushed the hosts lead to 10, 14-4.
Three-pointers by Filip Toncinic and Marcus Hammonds later in the run sandwiched a Preston Brown trey. Hammonds long-range bucket gave the hosts a 22-7 lead.
The Bearkats answered with a 15-0 run to tie the game at 22 on a Gilberto Clavell lay in with 3:21 remaining. SHSU would regain the lead, 25-24, with Corey Allmond hitting a three-point basket and the Bearkats led 30-29 at the intermission.
In the second half, A&M-Corpus Christi wasn't able to regain the lead.
Down 32-29, Palmer hit a basket and was fouled in the process. He had a chance to tie the game at 32, but missed the free throw the Islanders never got closer than one the rest of the way.
The Bearkats then answered with a 9-1 run to take a 9-point lead at 41-32.
A&M-Corpus Christi quickly pulled to within three, 45-42, with 11:36 left with a 10-4 spurt. Reynolds had six points with a layin by LaMarr Drake capping the run. Following a three-point basket by Josten Crow, Reynolds scored again in the paint to pull the Islanders back within four, 48-44.
Back-to-back layins by Crow pushed the lead to 10 with 6:50 remaining and the Islanders never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Islanders shot 42.9% for the game while Sam Houston State hit 47.1% including 53.8% in the second half. The Bearkats were nearly perfect from the foul hitting 17-of-18, while TAMUCC hit just 13-of-21. While the teams were deadlocked with 31 rebounds apiece, the Bearkats had forced 17 turnovers turning them into 16 points. The Islanders forced 12, but converted those into just seven points.
The Islanders head to UT Arlington on Wednesday before returning to Stripes Court on Saturday to celebrate Homecoming with Nicholls. Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m.