scored a career-high 16 points for the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team, but UTSA (7-7, 1-1 Southland Conference) was able to hit its free throws down the stretch to seal a 55-47 victory on Wednesday night at the American Bank Center. Demond Watt added nine points and 11 rebounds in the loss for the Islanders (5-11, 0-2 SLC).
The Islanders cut the Roadrunners' lead to 49-47 with 1:41 left in regulation on a fast-break layup by Justin Reynolds, but Devin Gibson buried two free throws on the ensuing possession to push the score to 51-47. The home squad got two inside looks on their next time down the court, but neither was able to fall and Gibson sank two more free throws to make it a six-point game. Gibson added two more shots from the line to result in the final score.
Early on, it looked as though UTSA might cruise in the conference tilt, as the Roadrunners hit eight of their first nine shots to open up a 17-5 lead. Jawan Nelson then hit a three, cutting the deficit to 17-8 with nine minutes remaining in the half and later Watt got the home team to within 19-12 after hitting a pair of free throws with 6:20 to play.
Mast followed by stealing an inbound pass and dishing to a streaking Hollis Hill, who capitalized on the fast break getting the Islanders to within five at 19-14. After a Roadrunner bucket, Mast made a layup, pulling the score to 21-17 with 4:50 remaining. The Islanders then closed the half on an 8-4 run to head into the locker room deadlocked, as Hill used a reverse layup with 38 seconds to tie the game up at 25.
Melvin Johnson III broke the tie out of the break with a layup, putting UTSA up 27-25, but Mast responded to tie the game at 27 with 17:10 on a layup off a brilliant feed from Watt. Garland Judkins then gave the Islanders their first lead of the game since 2-0 with a runner in the lane making the score 29-27. Gibson triggered a 9-0 run to put the visitors up 33-29 on a pair of jumpers, and Johnson III hit a three with 12:25 remaining to put the Roadrunners ahead by a 36-29 tally.
But the Islanders refused to fade, as Mast scored seven of the team's next nine points to pull the Islanders to 42-38 with 6:20 left. Trailing by four, Reynolds went coast-to-coast on a steal and fast-break dunk that made the score 44-42 UTSA. But the Roadrunners went on a five-point run to grab a 49-42 advantage. The Islanders closed to within two on a 5-0 run of their own, but Gibson's free throws proved the difference in the final score.
The Islanders return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m., as they play host to Southeastern Louisiana at the American Bank Center. Following the game, members of the team will be available in the facility's concourse for an autograph session.