CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team rallied from a late 14-point deficit to force overtime, but Incarnate Word delivered the key shots in the extra session to post a 69-65 overtime victory over the Islanders in an exhibition contest on Saturday night at the American Bank Center.
Chris Hawkins-Mast scored a career-best 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Islanders in a losing effort, while Terence Jones added 14 points and Myron Dempsey scored 10 in his debut. Dionelle Rucker (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Ian Markolf (14, 10) had double-doubles in the win for UIW.
With the teams knotted up heading to overtime, Incarnate Word won the tip and an Markolf layup gave them a 61-59 lead. Hawkins-Mast countered with a layup at the other end to tie the score again, but a triple from Jordan Roddy pushed the Cardinals' lead to 64-61. Hawkins-Mast responded with a layup on a second-chance point to trim it to a one-point deficit, but Markolf delivered a putback dunk to make it 66-63 with 1:37 to play in OT.
The score stayed that way with the Islanders holding possession with under a minute left, but a Hameed Ali jumper fell short and the Islanders had to send UIW to the line with 17.8 seconds to play. Darrell Southworth hit 1-of-2 to make it a two-possession game, and a Jones three-ball from the corner went askew to put UIW back at the line. After Lindale Brown hit 1-of-2, a Johnathan Jordan spinner brought the game to 68-65 with 4.2 seconds left, but the Islanders couldn't swipe the inbounds pass and Brown scored 1-of-2 at the line to close it out.
At the start of the game, Texas A&M – Corpus Christi came out red-hot to build a 6-0 lead at the 19:32 mark. An administrative technical assessed to UIW resulted in two made free throws by Jones before the opening tip. A layup by Hawkins-Mast made it 4-0, then Nate Maxey hit a pair of shots from the stripe for a 6-0 lead. But the Cardinals rallied, slowly chipping away at the deficit before a Southworth three made it a 16-14 UIW lead.
The teams went back-and-forth over the next several possessions before the Islanders scored six straight. A Hawkins-Mast triple gave A&M – Corpus Christi the lead, then Jordan converted a three-point play on the fast break for a 22-18 advantage. Incarnate Word answered with a 9-0 run though, to take a 27-22 lead at the under-8 timeout.
After UIW pushed it to 32-26, the Islanders ran off a 7-0 run for a one-point lead, with a triple from Jordan Pope-Didier the highlight of the rally. But the Cardinals countered with a 5-0 run to pull back ahead by four. They pushed the lead to seven before Hawkins-Mast threw down a fast-break dunk just before the half to make it 40-35 in favor of the visitors.
Out of the locker room, the Cardinals came out red hot, pushing the lead to 53-39, as the Islanders started with cold shooting on their end of the floor. A&M – Corpus Christi staged a rally at that point, scoring four straight points to trim it to 53-43. After a UIW bucket, the Islanders ran off six in a row, the last two on layups by Terence Jones, to make the deficit just six.
After a free throw made it a seven-point lead, Hameed Ali made it 56-52 by draining a three from the right corner. Time after time the Islanders were able to draw charges on the defensive end, and a Jason Smith free throw trimmed it to just three. The teams then traded baskets to result in a 58-55 UIW lead, and the Cardinals added a free throw. But another offensive foul gave the Islanders possession, and a Hawkins-Mast layin trimmed the deficit to just two.
UIW got to the line, but missed the front end of a one-and-one to give the Islanders the ball down two with 1:05 to play. Jones fought loose at the top of the key, drove around the defense and rolled in a layup to tie the game with 47 seconds to go. After a Markolf jumper fell short, Jordan pushed the ball upcourt and got a timeout to give A&M – Corpus Christi an opportunity for the last shot. Myron Dempsey tipped a rebound in, but it was just after the buzzer to send the teams to overtime.
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi won the battle of the boards, 44-43, but the Cardinals shot 43.1 percent in the game to the Islanders' 37.1 percent. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi was just 3-for-17 from beyond the arc in the contest. The Islanders drew nine charges in the game and posted 14 fast-break points in embodying the hustle that head coach Willis Wilson has preached.
The Islanders will open the regular season on Friday, Nov. 11, when they travel to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. and the game can be heard on the home of Islanders Basketball, NewsRadio 1360 KKTX.