CORPUS CHRISTI - Playing at the Dugan Wellness Center for the only time all season, the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi men's basketball team and Sam Houston State treated those in attendance to a barnburner, as the Islanders pulled out a 70-68 win on Saturday. Garland Judkins led the way with a career-high 17 points and Hollis Hill hit three key shots down the stretch in a game that featured 10 ties and 17 lead changes. The Islanders improved to 7-12 (2-3 Southland), while SHSU fell to 9-9 (2-3) in the crucial league contest.
With the Islanders down two at 65-63, Hill delivered the answer, driving through defenders and burying an acrobatic layup to tie the game at 65. It was the first of seven straight points for the freshman, who also converted a putback and hit a jumper with his toe on the line to give the Islanders a 69-65 advantage.
The Bearkats called timeout to follow, and neither team converted its next time down the court. Clavell then hit 1-of-2 from the line, but got the long rebound to give the Bearkats the ball down three with 24.4 seconds remaining. Clavell hit a putback with 5.4 remaining to make it 69-68, Islanders ball. The Bearkats fouled Hill on the inbound, and the freshman hit 1-of-2 for a two-point edge, and the SHSU last-ditch effort went wide to result in the final score.
Demond Watt scored 12 with seven boards, while Justin Reynolds added 10 and seven as well. The Bobcats' Gilberto Clavell was brilliant in the loss, scoring 30 points and adding eight rebounds in a losing effort.
Early on, the two teams went blow-for-blow, but Sam Houston State was able to knock down consecutive threes to take a 12-9 lead. But the Islanders countered with a Judkins layin and a Reynolds putback to regain the lead at 13-12. Clavell and Watt then traded baskets, but a Lance Pevehouse connection from long range gave the Bearkats back the edge at 17-15 with 7:49 remaining.
After Clavell and Watt traded thunderous dunks, Terence Jones hit a pair of shots from the line to knot things up at 19-19. Reynolds added a slam of his own to cap off a 6-0 run, but Drae Murray hit a mid-range jumper and Josten Crow added a fast-break layup to give the visitors a 23-21 advantage. Then it was Marcus Williams delivering a triple on the run to give the Bearkats a 26-21 edge with a 7-0 rally. Jones provided the heroics next, drilling a three from the right corner with the shot clock running down for a 26-24 score. The two squads went blow-for-blow until 31-29, but a Jawan Nelson layup tied the score heading into the locker room.
The two teams traded blows again out of the break, but SHSU got a crucial three-point play from Clavell to take a 39-35 advantage. Judkins again had the response though, drilling a three to trim the deficit to 39-38. The Bearkats got back-to-back buckets to make it a five-point edge and held steady at 45-40. After they stretched it to a 47-41 lead, Judkins converted a fast-break layup and drew the foul, converting the three-point play for a 47-44 SHSU lead.
Needing a stop, the Islanders got one, and on the other end Horace Bond grabbed a brilliant rebound and buried the putback to trim the Bearkat lead to 47-46 with 10:33 remaining. Sam Houston had the answer, though, as Pevehouse buried a three from the right win to regain a four-point edge. Judkins then had an answer of his own, getting a steal and converting a layup, then after another SHSU turnover, Jones drilled a trey from the left wing to give the home squad a 51-50 lead.
The Bearkats were able to answer with a layin on the other end, but Watt delivered a beautiful pass underneath to Bond, who laid it in for a 53-52 advantage. After a Bearkat miss, Bond stepped back and drilled a jumper from the free-throw line to give the home squad its biggest lead of the game to that point at 55-52. The two squads traded free throws the next three trips to make it 57-56, then Watt got a layup for a three-point Islander lead. That's when Clavell struck again, converting a three-point play to knot the game at 59-59.
Layups for each squad made it 61-61, then Watt drew the fourth personal on Clavell, hitting both shots from the line for a 63-61 score. Clavell hit two shots at the other end to tie the score, then after a Watt miss, Clavell drew another foul and hit both once more to regain the lead 65-63 before Hill delivered his heroics.
The Islanders are back in action on Wednesday night, when they travel to San Marcos for a matchup with Texas State. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Strahan Coliseum.