November 25, 2012

Cougars top Islanders, 77-75, in Thriller in American Bank Center

CORPUS CHRISTI – Will Nelson finished with a career-high 28 points, but his 15-foot jumper at the buzzer rimmed out, as the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi basketball team fell to Houston 77-75 in a thrilling contest on Stripes Court at the American Bank Center. Nate Maxey set a school record with nine blocks in a losing effort as well for the Islanders (1-3). The Cougars improved to 5-0 with the victory.

The Islanders and Cougars were knotted up at 73-73 with 2:08 to play when Joseph Young put the Cougars up two on a nice drive to the basket. After a missed jumper at the other end, Young converted a second-chance opportunity with a floater in the lane to make it 77-73. The Islanders got two free throws from Johnathan Jordan, then the Cougars missed the front end to give the home squad the ball. Down two with 5.6 seconds to play, the Islanders worked the ball to Nelson, but his jumper from the right elbow rang off the back iron to send UH home victorious.

Nelson added eight rebounds in a losing effort, while Jordan filled the stat sheet with eight points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The Islanders matched their school-record low with five turnovers in the game against 18 assists, giving them 35 assists to 12 turnovers over the last two contests.

For Houston, TaShawn Thomas led the way with 23 points and eight boards to go along with two blocks. Jherrod Stiggers scored 14 points, while Danuel House and J.J. Thompson had 10 each. The Cougars snared 15 offensive rebounds to win the battle of the boards, 49-36.

The first half was filled with wild action at both ends. The Cougars jumped out to a 7-2 lead early on, but the Islanders responded with an 8-1 run, featuring back-to-back baskets by Will Nelson, to garner a 10-8 lead of their own. UH bounced right back with a 7-2 run on the other end, but the Islanders came right back, posting a 7-0 run with Joy Williamson doing all the offensive work for A&M – Corpus Christi to make it a 19-15 lead.

After the Islanders pushed it to 26-19, the Cougars had another 8-0 run to regain the advantage at 27-26. From there, the two teams battled back-and-forth into the locker room, with both teams shining on the offensive end. Houston finished the scoring with a J.J. Thompson layup to take a 38-37 lead into the break.

Thomas led all scorers with 12 in the first half, while the Islanders had nine each from Williamson and Nelson. Maxey delivered eight blocks in the first half, setting the school record before he went to the locker room.

Out of the break, the Cougars embarked on an 8-1 run to push the lead to eight points, the highest they would hold in the contest. After pushing it to 48-40, the Islanders scored five straight, three by Nelson and two by Williamson. From there, the teams went blow-for-blow, with the Cougars putting the advantage at 56-53.

Hameed Ali followed with a jumper from the left wing and then Dale Francis' first career points put the Islanders ahead, 57-56, with 11:02 left. From that point forward, neither team held a lead greater than three until Young's floater in the closing minute. Maxey, Jordan, Nelson and Williamson had all the Islanders' points over the final 10 minutes of action.

The Islanders return to the court with a pair of road contests later this week. They start out with a contest at Toledo on Wednesday night, scheduled to tip at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast live on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX with Yannis Koutroupis on the call. For all the latest, be sure to follow the Islanders (@IslandersMBB) on Twitter and (Facebook.com/IslandersMBB) on Facebook.