December 19, 2010

Islanders Earn Dramatic Win Over Houston as Reynolds Tops 1,000 Points

CORPUS CHRISTI -

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team (4-6) placed four players in double figures in a dramatic 81-78 overtime victory over Houston (6-5) on Saturday night at the American Bank Center. Justin Reynolds became the seventh Islanders player with 1,000 points in his career, finishing with 14 points (1,003 career) and eight boards in the contest. It is the first victory for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi over Houston in five games all-time.

Demond Watt led the way with 17 points for the Islanders in a career-high 41 minutes, while Terence Jones added 16, including two clinching free throws in the final minute of OT. Horace Bond added a season-high 14 points and five boards to go along with a crucial block in the extra session. Adam Brown led the Cougars with 16 points in the loss.

A fast start helped the home squad earn the win. To open the overtime session, Reynolds cut to the hoop and hit an off-balance layup to push him past the 1,000-point barrier and give the Islanders a 74-72 lead. Watt then got a steal and dunked it home on a fast-break layup to make it a four-point advantage for the home squad. Darian Thibodeaux drew the Cougars within one with a triple from the corner, but Reynolds followed with a steal and fast-break dunk to make it 78-75. Kendrick Washington responded for the Cougars, converting a traditional three-point play to tie the score with 1:14 left.

Watt went to the line the next time down the court, and hit 1-of-2 to make it 79-78 with 51 seconds remaining. The Cougars drove to the rim twice on the ensuing possession, but twice were denied by the Islanders on blocks, one by Watt and a second by Jones. However, the ball went off Jones, and Houston had the ball with 27.1 ticks to play. Brown took a jumper from along the baseline, but the rebound got punched to Reynolds, and Jones was fouled with 14.6 seconds remaining. The redshirt sophomore showed his cool demeanor, hitting both shots at the line for an 81-78 edge. Bond deflected a potential game-tying three with three seconds left and Reynolds grabbed the board to ice the win.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi got off to a quick start in the first half, opening up a 6-2 lead with Horace Bond hitting a pair of free throws to put the Islanders up four. But Houston countered with five straight points to make it 7-6. That's when the home squad put up a 19-6 run to garner a 25-13 advantage, with a Watt dunk capping off the rally.

Houston rallied to bring it to within eight at 27-19, but the Islanders scored the next six, including a fast-break three from the left wing by Jones off an Antonio Topps steal and a jumper from Reynolds that made it 33-19. After the Cougars scored six straight to pull within eight, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi netted the next six to make it 39-25 before the Cougars' Brown buried a jumper just before the half to send the teams to the locker room at 39-27.

The Cougars came out of the half and slowly whittled away at the Islanders' lead, pulling within six at 51-45 with 12:41 remaining on a Washington layup. The two squads continued to go blow-for-blow to the 8:14 mark, when a Houston triple made it a 62-55 game. The back and forth continued to 66-60, when a Thibodeaux trey drew the visitors to within three. Kirk Van Slyke followed with a triple of his own from the right wing, and then Maurice McNeil finished off a breakaway layup to give Houston its first lead, 68-66, since 7-6.

Watt responded by converting a crucial three-point play and added a block at the other end, but the rebound caromed right to Van Slyke, who dunked it home to give Houston a 70-69 advantage. A Reynolds free throw tied the score with two minutes left, but the Cougars regained a two-point lead on a nice Washington layin underneath. Chris Mast tied the game at 72-72 with 1:25 left on a brilliant teardrop in the lane, and the Islanders grabbed a defensive rebound to have the ball with one minute remaining.

Reynolds attempted a triple from the left wing, but came up short to give Houston a chance at the last shot with 29.1 remaining on the clock. The Cougars got a solid look, but Zamal Nixon's trey from the right side rattled out and Watt came down with the rock. That gave Texas A&M - Corpus Christi the ball with 2.2 seconds left after a timeout, but Jones' three-quarter court attempt sailed wide to send the game to extra time.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi earned its first win over the Cougars, reversing an 0-4 all-time record against the squad. The Islanders had sent UH to overtime before, doing so in 2006, but came up short in that contest. The game marked the third this season that Houston went to OT with a Southland foe, with this the first OT victory for the conference.

The Islanders return to action on Monday night, when they head to Memphis for a 7 p.m. CT contest against the 18th-ranked Tigers at FedEx Forum. It will be the first-ever matchup between the two schools.