Men's Basketball Closes Home Season with 68-64 Win Over Nicholls
CORPUS CHRISTI – Texas A&M – Corpus Christi shot 69.2 percent (16-for-26) in the second half to garner its second straight victory with a 68-64 win over Nicholls on Saturday at the American Bank Center. Will Nelson had a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Johnathan Jordan added 16 points and nine assists for the Islanders.
Fred Hunter led the Colonels with 25 points and nine boards, while Dantrell Thomas added 12 points and Linden Smith-Hyde posted 10 in a losing effort. The Islanders won the battle of the boards in the game, 30-29, and again got a huge contribution from its bench with 34 points coming from reserves.
The back-and-forth affair featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes.
The Colonels got an early three by Thomas to start the game, but the Islanders responded with an 11-3 run to garner an 11-6 advantage at the 12:32 mark. Zane Knowles was the principal architect of the rally, scoring five of the Islanders' first 11 points. But Nicholls came right back with four straight points to make it a one-point game once again.
From there, the teams traded points, battling for three ties over the next five minutes. A Hunter layup started a string of four straight points for the visitors, but baskets by Nelson and Joy Williamson tied the contest back up at 20. After a Pedro Maciel three put Nicholls up 23-21, the Islanders equalized it for the fifth time in the half on a Nelson layup. Hunter hit two free throws in the final minute to put the visitors up two at the break.
After the home squad tied it up again on a two by Nelson, Nicholls went on a 6-0 run to pull ahead 31-25 after a Shane Rillieux layup. After the Colonels pushed it to 33-27, the Islanders went on a 7-0 run to regain the lead at 34-33. Hameed Ali drilled a key three and Jordan capped the rally with a jumper in the lane. After alternating baskets, a Jordan triple pushed the lead to four at 39-35 with 12:51 to play.
After a three from Maciel made it a one-point game again, the Islanders ran off a 9-0 rally with back-to-back jumpers by Jordan sandwiching a block by the 5-foot-10 point guard on the defensive end. The Islanders then pushed the lead to 50-41 at the 10:15 mark on a triple by Brandon Pye from the left corner.
But Nicholls responded, putting together a 16-2 run to turn a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead at 57-52. The Islanders, though, refused to wilt, and battled back with five straight points to tie the game back up at 57. From there, the teams traded blows, with ties at 59-59, 62-62 and 64-64, the final one with 1:50 to play.
Jordan came up big with a runner in the paint to put the Islanders up two with 1:17 left, then after a defensive stop, the sophomore coolly sank two free throws with 13 seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game. Thomas had two opportunities at threes in the final seconds, but both rimmed out and the Islanders emerged with the victory.
The Islanders will return to the road for their final two games of the season, as they travel to Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin to close out the 2012-13 campaign. A&M – Corpus Christi will take on the Demons on Thursday, March 7, at approximately 8 p.m. in Natchitoches, La. Yannis Koutroupis will have the call on NewsRadio 1360KKTX.