THIBODAUX, La. – Nicholls got a career-high 23 points from Dantrell Thomas and 18 from Sam McBeath in posting a 65-61 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Wednesday night at Stopher Gym. Terence Jones (18) and Chris Hawkins-Mast (13) finished in double figures for the Islanders.
A&M – Corpus Christi (4-17, 3-6 Southland) had one of its best shooting nights of the year, going 21-of-41 from the floor (51.2 percent) and 15-of-21 from the free-throw line (71.4 percent), but Nicholls (6-15, 2-7) brought a strong offensive night as well. The Colonels shot 42.3 percent from the field and 72.2 percent from the line in the contest. The Islanders were whistled for 15 turnovers to Nicholls' 11, though, and allowed 10 offensive boards to the Colonels.
The Islanders jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with a Myron Dempsey layup, but the Colonels hit consecutive shots to gain a 5-2 lead. But the visitors then embarked on an 11-2 run to open up a 13-7 lead. Nicholls responded with a quick 5-0 run, but Jones rose to the occasion. After blocking a shot from behind on the defensive end, he sprinted down and drilled a three from the right wing. A Jake Kocher three-point play followed, and the Islanders led 19-12 with 9:40 remaining.
Nicholls responded with an 8-0 run to regain the lead at 20-19, before a Dempsey dunk broke the string. Nicholls added a 9-2 rally to push the lead to 28-23, aided by a pair of free throws following a Jones technical foul. The Islanders trimmed it to 30-29 after a Hameed Ali layup, but a couple of wild offensive rebounds gave Nicholls the ball for the last shot of the stanza. Bryan Hammond was fouled on a three and hit two at the line to result in a 32-29 Colonels advantage at the break.
The Islanders had one of their best shooting halves of the year, going 11-for-20 from the field and 5-of-6 at the stripe in the opening frame. But Nicholls hit 5-of-11 from downtown and got 13 points off eight Islanders turnovers, four of which were on offensive fouls.
Nicholls pushed it to 34-29 with the first basket of the half, but the Islanders responded with a 5-2 rally to move within two at 36-34. From there the teams went back-and-forth, with a Jones three pulling the Islanders to a one-point deficit at 38-37. The pace really picked up at that point, with end-to-end action. The Islanders took several leads, including a two-point edge at 42-40, but Nicholls stayed hot from the outside, burying three straight triples at one point to take a 54-52 lead.
The final of the three, a Thomas shot from the wing, sparked a 6-0 run to push the edge to 57-52. A Hawkins-Mast free throw broke the string, but the Colonels pushed the lead to 59-53 with 3:13 to play. Jason Smith took over the Islanders' offense, scoring six points in a row at one point for the team, and the Islanders trimmed it to two points on several occasions. Nicholls rose to the opportunity though, hitting all six of its free throws in the final 30 seconds to ice the victory.
The Islanders road trip continues this weekend, as they head to Natchitoches, La., for a matchup with Northwestern State on Saturday, Feb. 1. Game time is set for 2 p.m. Steven King will have the call on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX starting at 1:45 with the pregame.