SAVANNAH, Ga. – Three players finished in double figures for the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team, but Savannah State (14-10) forced 17 turnovers with its press defense to post a 55-49 victory over the Islanders on Monday at Tiger Arena. Myron Dempsey had a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards in the loss.
Hameed Ali scored 11 points and added a pair of steals for the Islanders (4-19). Terence Jones had a relatively quiet night with 10 points, but moved into 10th on the Islanders all-time scoring list, passing Aaron White (2002-06). The junior now has 793 points in his Islanders career.
Arnold Louis led the way for the Tigers with 12 points, while Rashad Hassan and Joshua Montgomery each chipped in 10. Louis posted a double-double with 11 boards as well. Savannah State went 16-for-25 from the line to close out the victory. The Tigers had 10 steals that resulted in 16 points.
The Islanders took an early 4-2 lead on anAli three, but SSU locked down defensively and went on a 13-0 run to take a 15-4 lead. Louis scored seven of the Tigers' first 15 points. But the Islanders countered with a run of their own, with a Nate Maxey dunk combined with threes by Ali and Jones to make it 15-12.
The Tigers' press again afforded them a rally, this one a 7-1 run, to push the lead to 22-13. The Islanders halted the momentum with an Ali jumper, but SSU scored the final two points of the half to take a 24-15 lead into the break. A&M – Corpus Christi was ice cold from the field, going 5-of-23 in the opening 20 minutes.
SSU scored the first basket of the half, but the Islanders caught fire with a 9-0 run, led by six points from Chris Hawkins-Mast, to cut the lead to 26-24. But after a turnover, Deric Rudolph broke the rally with a clutch triple from the left wing. The visitors had another string in them, though, with a 7-3 rally, and took their first lead since 4-3 on a Myron Dempsey turnaround layup at the 12:44 mark to make it 31-29 Islanders.
But after the Islanders 7-of-10 start from the field out of the locker room, the visitors went cold from the field. The Tigers used that to counter with a 15-5 run, including a pair of Preston Blackmon threes, to push their lead to 44-36 at the 7:15 mark. From there, the scoring went dormant, as each team mustered only one free throw apiece to make the score 45-37 with 3:20 to go. The Islanders cut it to as low as 48-42 in the closing minutes, but SSU was able to get stops and convert its free throws down the stretch to emerge with the win.
The Islanders will return to the hardwood on Saturday, Feb. 11, for a 1 p.m. tipoff against Sam Houston State at the American Bank Center. It will be the annual Hoops for Blue Scholars game, with every basket the Islanders score raising money for the One Hundred Club Scholarship, benefitting Corpus Christi police officers and their families. To donate to the cause, go to hoops.tamucc.edu.