February 2, 2013

Islanders Fall to Bearkats, 55-51

CORPUS CHRISTI – Johnathan Jordan had his second straight double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists, but Sam Houston State rallied past the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team for a 55-51 victory on Saturday at the Dugan Wellness Center. DeMarcus Gatlin had a double-double of his own for the Bearkats with 15 points and 10 boards.

No other player finished in double figures for either team. Each squad snared 33 caroms in the ballgame, but the Bearkats held the advantage at the free-throw line, going 18-for-21 at the stripe to the Islanders' 10-for-14. SHSU outscored the Islanders 28-20 in the paint, while the home squad netted 14 points off turnovers to the Bearkats' seven.

The two teams went back-and-forth early on, with the Bearkats taking a 5-4 lead on a Darius Gatson three. After that it was a string of runs, as the Islanders responded with a 6-0 run, four of the points coming at the free-throw line, to take a 10-5 lead. The Bearkats responded with a 6-0 rally of their own to regain an 11-10 lead, culminating with a pair of free throws from Paul Baxter.

That's when the Islanders went on a 10-0 run to build a nine-point lead. James King was the main catalyst, as he delivered a beautiful feed to Zane Knowles for a layup to make it 15-11. Shortly after, as the Bearkats tried to press, the Islanders broke it and King sprinted to the right wing and buried a three to make it 18-11. A Knowles turnaround shot made it 20-11.

SHSU responded with five straight points, but the Islanders had another rally in them, this one 8-2. Jordan had five points in the run, the final three coming on a traditional three-point play that made it 28-18. The Bearkats scored the last points of the half with a Terrance Motley layup to send it to the half with the home squad up 28-20.

The 'Kats came out firing on both ends after the break, using a 9-0 run – including Motley's two before the half – to make it a one-point game at 28-27. From there, the Bearkats were able to pull even on a layup by Motley that made it 31-all. After the Islanders scored four straight points, two free throws by Nathaniel Mason gave the home squad a 35-33 edge.

The Islanders then got five straight points, the final three on a triple by Cole Martinez from the left corner that left them ahead by seven. After the Islanders pushed the lead to eight on a Jordan jumper that made it 44-36 with 5:59 left, SHSU got a key three from Marquel McKinney to start a 10-3 run that made it just a one-point lead for the home squad.

A&M – Corpus Christi pushed the lead to 50-46 on a jumper by Jordan with 2:06 to play, but the Bearkats scored the game's next seven points to garner a lead they would not relinquish. Gatlin's three-point play with under a minute remaining gave the visitors their first lead since the 9:43 mark, 51-50 with 57 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, the Bearkats denied the Islanders, as Gatlin blocked Nelson's attempt and Gatson hit two free throws to make it 53-50 with 30 seconds left. After an Islanders timeout, SHSU denied the three, and the Islanders had to settle for a Jordan free throw that made it 53-51 with seven seconds left. The home squad had a solid chance at a steal, as Hameed Ali trapped Gatson in the corner, but he was whistled for a foul and then Gatson finished the game off with a pair of free throws to result in the final score.

The Islanders are back in action on Thursday, as they play host to a doubleheader against Lamar at the American Bank Center. The women's game is slated for a 5 p.m. tip with the men's contest to follow at approximately 7:30. Tickets for the double-dip are available by calling 825-BALL (2255) or visiting GoIslanders.com. The game will be carried live on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX with Yannis Koutroupis on the call.