CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team staged a furious rally, overcoming a 25-point first-half deficit to push first-place UT Arlington to the brink, but the Mavericks were able to survive with a 77-73 victory on Wednesday at the Dugan Wellness Center. Kennon Dvorak scored a career-high 15 and Terence Jones led the Islanders with 17 points (2-15, 1-4 Southland) in a losing effort.
Dvorak, a true walk-on who joined the team just prior to Islanders Invasion, went 4-for-5 from downtown and added three assists and three boards. He made his fourth consecutive start for the Islanders after playing just seven career minutes before conference play began on Jan. 4.
The Mavericks (12-5, 5-0) extended their winning streak to eight games thanks in large part to an 18-for-22 second-half performance at the line. LaMarcus Reed III delivered 26 points, 11 from the stripe, to lead the way for the Mavs. Kevin Butler added 14 points for UTA and Jordan Reves had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards.
Chris Hawkins-Mast and Myron Dempsey each added 10 points in the loss for the Islanders, who shot a season high 51 percent (25-for-49) from the field. Johnathan Jordan matched his career best with nine assists, while Dempsey led the team with six boards.
After the Mavericks' got out to a 16-2 lead thanks to a red-hot start, which saw them drill six of their first eight threes, Hameed Ali finally broke the skid with a three from the top of the key. Bo Ingram, Butler and Reed combined to hit seven of their first nine shots, including 6-of-8 from downtown. UTA pushed the lead to 33-8 with a Butler three at the 8:32 mark.
But the Islanders ripped off a furious rally, sparked by a Ted Wang jumper from the free throw line. That bucket started a 16-2 run to allow the Islanders to trim the deficit to just 13 after Dvorak buried his second three of the night. The Mavs slowed the Islanders rally with a Reves dunk, but A&M – Corpus Christi responded again. The home squad scored five of the last seven points of the half to enter the locker room down just 10 with the score 40-30.
Out of the break, the Islanders scored the first four points, forcing a Mavericks timeout with the score 40-34. A&M – Corpus Christi trimmed it to just four after another Dvorak three, his fourth of the night, to make it 43-39. Later, a Terence Jones triple from the left wing made it a one-point game, 45-44, with 14:47 to go in the half. With 12:49 remaining, Ali drained a triple, knotting the game at 47-47, the first tie since the tipoff. The total run at that point was 39-14 over a span of 15:42.
But the Mavericks were able to battle back with a 19-10 run, most of that coming at the free-throw line, to push the lead back to 66-57 at the 7:03 mark. The Islanders refused to wilt, though. They countered with a 13-4 run of their own, capped by a Terence Jones three, to trim the deficit back to one at 70-69 with 3:20 left. The two teams battled back-and-forth over the next three minutes, and the Mavericks held a 74-73 lead in the final minute.
Reves went to the free-throw line with 20.4 seconds to play and his team up one. The junior had the first rattle in, then his second went off the back rim and Dvorak snared the defensive board out of midair. With 12.6 ticks left on the clock, head coach Willis Wilson called time out, but on the ensuing play, Jones lost the handle and was called for a travel with 2.6 seconds to go. Shaquille White-Miller went to the line for UTA with 1.5 remaining and hit both shots to ice the win.
The Islanders return to the road this weekend, as they will face Sam Houston State in Huntsville at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. Steven King will have the call starting at 6:45 on 1360 KKTX and on GoIslanders.com.