Men's Basketball Wins Conference Opener, 81-66 Over UCA

CONWAY, Ark. – John Jordan led four players in double figures with 21 points, as the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team won its Southland Conference opener, 81-66, over Central Arkansas on Thursday night.

Rashawn Thomas posted a career-high 18 points to go along with eight rebounds and four blocks, while Jake Kocher added 14 points and a career-high eight rebounds and five steals. Joy Williamson posted 12 points and six rebounds in the victory. Jordan added six assists and four steals to his well-rounded stat line.

Jalen Jackson scored 21 points and led UCA with nine rebounds in the loss, while LaQuentin Miles added 19 points for the Bears. The Islanders posted 40 rebounds and 13 steals in the victory.

Early on, the two teams traded baskets with the Islanders jumping out to an 8-7 lead on a Joy Williamson layup at the 15:10 mark. But UCA put together a 12-4 run, including four points from Jackson to take a 19-12 lead. That's when the Islanders went on an 11-0 run, with a Williamson dunk and four free throws from Cole Martinez highlighting the rally. It was a lead they would never relinquish.

Leading 23-19, the Islanders continued the pressure, pushing the lead all the way to 27-20. Miles came back with consecutive buckets, but the visitors responded with nine straight points – including a triple from Kocher and a three-point play for Jordan – to push the lead to a game-high 12.

The Bears were able to cut it back to eight with four straight points, but a three from Williamson sent the Islanders to the locker room up by 11, 39-28.

Out of the break, both teams came out slow, with DeShone McClure scoring the first points at the 18:08 mark. At that juncture, the Islanders turned up the defensive pressure and turned it into points, scoring six straight to push the lead to 15. That was the beginning of a 16-4 run that broke the game open, as the Islanders moved ahead by 21, 55-34. Jordan scored the final two baskets of that rally, two on a fast-break layup and two on his second dunk of the game.

But UCA began to slowly chip away at the advantage, cutting the lead to just 14 on a Phabian Glasco layup at the 9:40 mark that made it 59-45. The lead wavered between 14 and 16 over the next several minutes, with the Islanders' advantage sitting at 69-54 with 3:46 to play.

Things got a little hairy in the closing minutes, as UCA put together a 6-0 run to cut the lead to single digits for the first time in over 15 minutes of game action. With 2:47 to play, a Miles layup cut the lead to just eight, but the Islanders put together an 11-1 run to push the lead to as much as 18 before a Jackson three closed the scoring.

The Islanders continue their road swing with another conference contest on Saturday, as they head to Tulsa, Okla., for a matchup with Oral Roberts. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m. at the Mabee Center. The game will be carried regionally by Fox College Sports.