CORPUS CHRISTI – Jeff Beverly and Rashawn Thomas each scored 12 points to lead the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team to a 67-51 victory – its sixth in a row – over McNeese State on Thursday at the American Bank Center. John Jordan added 10 points and six assists to surpass 1,000 in his career, the ninth player in school history to reach the milestone.
The Islanders improved to 16-14 overall and 13-4 in Southland play to retain a hold of second place in the league. A win in Saturday's season finale or a loss by Sam Houston State would give A&M-Corpus Christi the No. 2 seed and a double bye in the conference tournament.
Craig McFerrin posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, adding four blocks in the loss for McNeese State (10-19, 8-9 Southland). The Islanders held the Cowboys to 19-for-62 shooting (.306) and held leading scorer Ledrick Eackles to four points on 0-for-11 shooting from the field.
Early on, both teams played strong on the defensive end, with the teams battling to a 12-12 tie after Austin Lewis' jumper at the 9:52 mark. In the opening 10:08, the Islanders got two blocks each by Thomas and Zane Knowles, while McNeese State limited A&M-Corpus Christi to a 1-for-8 start from the field.
The Islanders then ran off a 9-2 run to pull ahead by seven, 21-14. Beverly scored six of the Islanders' nine points in the run. McNeese State came right back with a 7-0 run of its own to tie the score again at 21. But A&M-Corpus Christi delivered a 6-0 run to regain a six-point lead – the final two on a layup by Jordan that gave the junior 1,000 points for his career.
The Cowboys cut the lead to just two by finishing the half on a 5-1 run to head to the locker room trailing 28-26, as Jake Kocher's buzzer-beating three went off the front rim to keep the lead at two.
The two teams traded blows out of the locker room, with the Islanders pushing their lead to five, 37-32, at the 16:55 mark. The home squad then ran off five straight points – three on a Beverly triple – to push the lead to double figures for the first time. McNeese was able to cut into it on a tip-in by Pete Kpan, but the Islanders got a big triple from Brandon Pye to push the lead back to 11.
Then, after Desharick Guidry finished a layup to cut it to nine, the Islanders ran off an 8-2 rally, including a three-point play by Jordan, to push the lead to 15. Cole Martinez capped off the run with a triple from the right wing. From there, the Islanders were able to salt away the victory, pushing the lead to as much as 20 in the closing minutes.
The Islanders will wrap up the regular season on Saturday when they play host to Nicholls at the American Bank Center. The contest will be Senior Day – the final home game for James King, Zane Knowles, Kevin Lynch and Joy Williamson. Tipoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. on Stripes Court.
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