December 21, 2010

No. 17 Memphis Staves Off Islanders Upset Bid

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Hollis Hill scored a career-high 16 points and four members of the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team finished in double figures, but the Islanders' upset bid fell short in a 68-63 loss to No. 17 Memphis on Monday night. The Islanders (4-7) were within one possession until the final minute, but the Tigers improved to 9-1 in the win.

Terence Jones finished with 11 points and matched a career high with six assists against no turnovers, while Justin Reynolds added 11 points and seven boards and Demond Watt had 10 points along with eight caroms. Joe Jackson led all scorers with 23 points, while Will Coleman added 15 for the victors.

The Islanders had a season-high 19 assists as a team and a season-low 13 turnovers in the game. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi had just two turnovers after halftime in the game.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi got off to a fast start courtesy the hot shooting of Reynolds. The senior scored the first five points of the game, two on a lay-in and then a triple from the top of the key, to give the home squad a 5-0 lead. But Memphis used the press to score the next nine to garner a four-point edge at 9-5. A Jones three snapped the run and made it 9-8 in favor of the Tigers. The two teams went back-and-forth to 13-12, but back-to-back Memphis baskets forced an Islanders timeout with the score 17-12 in favor of the home team at the 9:39 mark.

With the score 20-14, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi embarked on an 8-0 run to gain its first lead since 5-4 at 22-20. Jones and Hill each hit treys in the stretch and Jaamon Echols buried a clutch bucket as well in the run. But the Tigers rallied with a 6-0 run of their own to regain a 26-22 edge at the 3:53 mark.

The teams traded free throws to 28-24, then Hill threw up a desperation triple that fell to make it a one-point game at the 2:34 mark. The score remained that way until the final minute, when Hill took the ball off a steal and dished to the trailing Horace Bond, who gave the Islanders the lead at 29-28 with 38 seconds left. Bond made a brilliant deflection on the Tigers' last possession and their final attempt came after the buzzer to leave Texas A&M - Corpus Christi ahead by one at the break.

The Tigers scored the first five points out of the locker room to regain a four-point lead, but Hill rallied the Islanders with a layup that set the team on a 9-2 run for a 38-35 lead. Memphis was able to respond as Joe Jackson hit a pair of free throws and Coleman slammed one home to make it 39-38. The two teams then traded buckets at both ends, with Jackson scoring both for Memphis, and the score sat at 43-42 with 9:53 to play.

Chris Mast gave the Islanders another lead with a triple from the left wing, making it 45-43, but Antonio Barton responded with a three-point play and Charles Carmouche drained a three of his own and quickly the Tigers found themselves with a 49-45 lead and forced a Texas A&M - Corpus Christi timeout with 7:41 remaining.

The Islanders refused to wilt, though, going blow-for-blow to 55-51 with 5:47 to go. But after a Watt free throw made it 55-52, Jackson hit a three from the left corner to give Memphis its biggest lead since midway through the first half at six points. Nelson countered with a lay-in at the other end, and the Islanders found themselves down 58-54 at the under-4 timeout.

Coleman hit two free throws to make it 60-54, but Jones responded by burying a three-ball from the left wing to create a one-possession game at 60-57. Memphis then spoiled an otherwise strong defensive possession for the Islanders when Coleman slipped loose and dunked it home for a 62-57 advantage. Jackson hit two free throws to make it 64-57, but Reynolds laid one in to trim it to five and Hill hit two free throws to pull the Islanders within one possession at 64-61.

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi forced a Memphis timeout on the following inbound, but the Tigers were able to hit their free throws down the stretch to stave off the upset, resulting in the final score.

The Islanders are now off for the next nine days for the holidays, and will reconvene in Chattanooga, Tenn., for a Wednesday, Dec. 29, game against Georgia State in the Dr. Pepper Classic. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will then face either host Chattanooga or Montreat in the second game on Thursday, Dec. 30.