March 9, 2010

ISLANDERS TO FACE UTSA IN FIRST ROUND OF THE SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team heads to the State Farm Southland Conference Tournament Wednesday for the third time in four seasons and will face UTSA at 2:30 p.m. in the Merrell Center in Katy.

The Islanders enter the tournament as the No. 3-seed after finishing the season with a 10-6 mark in the Southland and 16-14 overall. UTSA is 19-10 on the season and 9-7 in the Southland Conference. The winner of Wednesday's game will take on the winner of Stephen F. Austin and UT Arlington on Thursday at 6 p.m.

A&M-Corpus Christi and UTSA will be meeting in the rubber match of their season series as each won on the other team's home floor during the regular season.

In the first meeting, the Islanders won in overtime 66-62. Kevin Palmer scored 16 of his 18 points after halftime and Demond Watt added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. For UTSA, Morris Smith IV led four Roadrunners in double figures with 19. Terry Fields led UTSA with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Islanders led the game by nine points with less than five minutes to go and had to hold as the Roadrunners chipped their way back into the game. They tied the game with 20 seconds left on a three-point basket by Smith IV. Devin Gibson had a chance to win the game after swiping a steal with less than 10 seconds but did not get a shot off before the buzzer.

After the Islanders won in OT at UTSA, A&M-Corpus Christi suffered a stinging 1-point defeat at the American Bank Center. The Islanders battled back from an 18-point deficit in the first 20 minutes only to see a lob pass from LaMarr Drake to Marcus Hammonds deflect off the rim with seconds left. Palmer led all players with 19 points, while Watt dropped in 14. The guard tandem of Gibson and Omar Johnson finished with 18 and 13 points, respectively.

Including UTSA, the Islanders are 6-5 this season versus the seven other teams in the field. They were 2-0 against Texas State and 1-0 against Southeastern Louisiana and Nicholls. Aside from UTSA, A&M-Corpus Christi split the season series with UT Arlington as well. They lost both meetings to Sam Houston State and its lone meeting with Stephen F. Austin.

A&M-Corpus Christi is 4-1 in its two previous trips to the tournament. They won the tournament in their first trip going 3-0 en route to a berth in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the Islanders defeated UT Arlington in the opening round 79-72 before falling 63-60 in the semifinals to eventual champion Stephen F. Austin.