ARLINGTON, Texas – Jake Kocher had a career-high 15 points and Chris Hawkins-Mast posted 18, but UT Arlington pulled away in the final four minutes for a 78-64 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Wednesday at the College Park Center. The Mavericks remained undefeated in conference play at 15-0 and improved to 23-6 overall with the win.
Kocher had an impressive game on both ends of the floor, using his hustle to create three steals and four defensive boards to go with his career-high in points. Johnathan Jordan posted five assists in the game to give him 134 on the season, a new Islanders record. Hawkins-Mast played all 40 minutes in a losing effort.
The Southland's leading scorer, LaMarcus Reed III, netted 18 points, while Kevin Butler added 16 and Bo Ingram 14 for the Mavericks. With Myron Dempsey missing the game due to injury, UTA exploited that to post a 46-18 advantage in the paint and a 21-9 edge in second-chance points.
The two teams battled back-and-forth early on, with the Islanders taking an early 12-10 lead on the strength of five early points from Kocher. The Mavs then went on a 7-0 run to build the game's first significant advantage at 17-12. But the visitors countered with their own 7-0 run, highlighted by a Terence Jones three, to regain the lead 19-17, forcing a UTA timeout at the 8:05 mark.
The Islanders pushed the lead to 22-19 after a Kocher three, but the Mavs embarked on an 8-0 run sparked by a Jordan Reves putback to garner a 27-22 lead at the 4:57 mark. The Islanders refused to wilt, though, as the two teams picked up the pace significantly. A Jones triple cut the deficit to 27-25, and a later three-ball by Hameed Ali made it 32-30. Up 34-32 with the half winding down, the Mavs got a goaltending call then a turnover to hold the ball for the last shot of the half. Bradley Gay grabbed an offensive board and buried a putback at the buzzer to push the lead to 38-32 at the break.
After the half, the Mavs scored the first five points to build a 43-32 lead, making it a 9-0 run around the halftime break. Kocher halted that with a triple from the right wing, and that launched an 11-0 Islanders run to tie the score 43-43, with Kocher netting seven of those points. But UTA had another run in them, unleashing a 9-0 run, with Reed and Brandon Edwards scoring all nine points for the Mavs.
The Islanders snapped that with a Hawkins-Mast layup, but traded baskets over the next several minutes, unable to cut into the home team's lead. With the score 65-54 in favor of the Mavs, the Islanders unleashed a 7-0 run to trim it to just four at the 4:37 mark, with Hawkins-Mast and Kocher supplying all the offense. But that was as close as the Islanders would get in the contest. The Mavs converted on free throws and off turnovers down the stretch to pull away with the win.
The Islanders are back in action on Saturday night against Central Arkansas for the 2011-12 season finale at 7 p.m. at the American Bank Center. The game will be Senior Night, as the Islanders will honor Hawkins-Mast prior to his final home game for A&M – Corpus Christi. It will also be Military/Appreciation Night, with special ticket offers for Coastal Bend residents and military personnel. Click here to find out more about Saturday's events.