ABILENE, Texas – Brandon Pye's three with 3.5 seconds left lifted the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team to a 71-69 victory over Abilene Christian on Saturday at Moody Coliseum. John Jordan and Rashawn Thomas each scored 20 points in the victory for the Islanders (11-14, 8-4 Southland), who moved into third place in the conference with the win.
Jordan added eight rebounds and nine assists to come tantalizingly close to the first triple-double in Islanders lore. Thomas added six rebounds and two blocks for the Islanders. Julian Edmonson led the way with 18 points for ACU, while Parker Wentz and Austin Cooke each scored 14.
Pye's triple capped off a high-octane finish that saw six lead changes in the final five minutes of action. A triple by Edmonson with 4:38 remaining gave ACU a 63-62 lead, but Thomas came right back by converting a three-point play to put the Islanders up two. After Edmonson tied it once again, ACU took a 66-65 lead on two free throws from Cooke.
But the Islanders came back once more, with a Joy Williamson layup putting the Islanders ahead 68-67. From there, ACU converted its remaining points at the free-throw line, going just 2-for-6 in their final three trips and setting up Pye's heroics. Jordan drove on the left side and dished to Pye in the corner, where he drained his first triple of the game. ACU tried to drive the basket and tie the game once more, but Thomas drew a charge to end the ballgame.
A&M-Corpus Christi started with a layup from Zane Knowles right off their first possession, but Abilene Christian came back with a 20-2 run, converting on eight of their first nine possessions to build an early 20-4 advantage. Included in that was a 4-for-5 start from beyond the arc and a 7-for-9 beginning from the field. Six different players scored for the Wildcats in the opening seven minutes.
The Islanders slowly worked their way back, cutting the deficit to nine on a Williamson jumper that made it 22-13 at 7:36. But Cooke stayed red hot from the field, and back-to-back threes by the sophomore pushed the lead right back to 13. After the teams traded points back and forth over the next few minutes, two free throws by Parker Wentz saw the home squad holding an 11-point edge.
But Jordan came through and scored the final five points of the stanza, the first on a drive to the basket for two, then a three that rolled around and down at the buzzer to make it 35-29 Wildcats at the half. ACU went 7-for-14 from downtown in the first 20 minutes.
The Islanders carried over the momentum out of the locker room, pushing the run all the way to 22-3 to pull ahead 46-38. Two thunderous dunks by Thomas and a third by Williamson highlighted the second-half portion of the rally, while Pye cashed in a pair of long jumpers and Jordan scored four points as well during the run. The Islanders pushed the lead all the way to 10, 52-42, on Knowles' layup.
After the teams traded baskets to 56-46, ACU went on a 17-6 run, with Edmonson three-pointers bookending both ends of the rally. Edmonson had 11 of the 17 Wildcat points during the run. From there, it was a back-and-forth affair all the way until the final whistle.
The Islanders return to the Coastal Bend this weekend beginning with a Thursday night affair against Central Arkansas. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m. in the American Bank Center. The contest is sponsored by Christus Spohn.
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