CORPUS CHRISTI – UTSA rallied late to force overtime, then outscored the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team 9-5 in the extra session to emerge with an 86-82 victory on Wednesday at the American Bank Center. Five Islanders finished in double figures, led by Terence Jones' 26, in a losing effort.
In addition to Jones' 26, Nate Maxey (10 points, 10 rebounds) and Johnathan Jordan (12 points, 10 assists) each posted their first career double-doubles in the loss. Chris Hawkins-Mast (12 points) and Myron Dempsey (10) each finished in double figures as well. Jones had a career-high seven three pointers for the Islanders (5-22, 3-10 Southland).
UTSA (16-12, 8-5) had three players eclipse the 20-point mark, with Kannon Burrage's 21 leading the way. Igor Nujic (20) and Melvin Johnson III (20) also had strong offensive games for the Roadrunners. Jeromie Hill (nine points, 11 boards) came up just short of a double-double of his own.
In the extra session, the Roadrunners struck first with two Burrage free throws, but Dempsey got A&M – Corpus Christi back even with a brilliant tip in, 79-79. UTSA responded though, getting a huge second-chance layup from Burrage to make it 81-79. After Jones came up empty on a layup, Sei Paye hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it a three-point Roadrunner lead. The Islanders were unable to convert on the other end, and Hill's tip-in made it 84-79.
Jones answered with a three from the left wing, and the home squad was within two, 84-82, with 27.9 ticks remaining in overtime. The Islanders fouled Michael Hale III, and the junior missed both to give the home squad the ball back with 16 seconds left. But on the ensuing possession, Jones was whistled for being out of bounds on a pivotal call, giving the Roadrunners the possession. UTSA broke the press, and Nujic's layup sealed the game.
Out of the gate the teams went basket-for-basket, with UTSA taking a 7-6 lead following a pair of free throws by Hill. But the Islanders went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a fast-break Jones three and an impressive tip-in by Hawkins-Mast, to make it 13-7 in favor of the home squad. The Islanders pushed the lead to 17-10, but at a high cost, as post players Maxey and Jordan Pope-Didier were both whistled for their second fouls during that period and had to take a seat.
UTSA took advantage with a couple of baskets inside, then a Johnson jumper trimmed it to 17-16. Burrage's jumper made it an 8-0 run, as the Roadrunners regained the lead. A Ted Wang jumper just before the end of the shot clock snapped that rally, and started a 6-0 Islanders run to push the home team back up 23-18. UTSA countered with five straight points to tie the score once again, and from there the squads traded points into the locker room, with the Roadrunners striking last to take a 31-30 lead.
Out of the break, the Roadrunners got a triple from Igor Nujic to start the scoring, and that started a back-and-forth that went all the way to a 44-39 UTSA lead. The Islanders then erupted for a 12-0 run, highlighted by a pair of threes from Jones, to give the home squad the advantage once again, this time by a 51-44 score. During the rally, the Islanders held the visitors to 0-for-7 shooting and grabbed the defensive rebound every time.
Johnson took things over offensively for the Roadrunners at that point, scoring 10 straight UTSA points to lead the visitors on a 12-4 run and into the lead, 56-55. The Islanders had another run in them, snapping off a 7-0 string, with Jordan drilling a three as the shot clock ran down to make it 62-56. From there, both teams came up big on the offensive end, with the Islanders pushing the advantage to 69-62.
UTSA trimmed the deficit to four with a three-ball from Nujic, and that started a 7-1 run to cut the lead to just one, 70-69. Jordan hit a pair of shots at the line, and then Jones drilled a clutch three from the left corner under heavy pressure to push the Islanders lead to six. UTSA scored four straight points at the foul line, then forced an Islanders turnover and got a fast-break layup, tying the game at 75-all.
The Islanders took a timeout with the ball and 35.2 seconds on the clock. Jason Smith got the ball on the left wing, shook the defender and unleashed a floater to put the home squad up two. On the ensuing possession, Paye had a brilliant play on the perimeter, spinning and driving to dish to Burrage, who laid it off the glass and in with 1.6 seconds to go. The Islanders got the baseball pass in to Maxey, but his shot at the buzzer fell just short.
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi shot 49.2 percent for the game, but went just 2-for-9 in the extra session. The Islanders won the battle of the boards, 31-30, in addition to besting the Roadrunners in points in the paint (32-26), points off turnovers (23-15), second-chance points (16-6) and fast-break points (8-2).
A&M – Corpus Christi returns to action this weekend with a trip to Nacogdoches for a matchup with Stephen F. Austin on Saturday at 6 p.m. Steven King will have the call on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX starting at 5:45 with the Navy/Army Community Credit Union Pregame show.