Senior Justin Reynolds notched his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds, but a hot start by UTSA (14-12, 7-6 Southland) carried the Roadrunners to a 71-62 victory over the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi basketball team on Wednesday night. Demond Watt (15) and Terence Jones (12) also finished in double figures in a losing effort.
Devin Gibson scored 17 points, including nine from the free-throw line, to lead the Roadrunners. Jeromie Hill (15) and Melvin Johnson III (10) joined Gibson in double digits. With the loss, the Islanders (8-20, 3-10) have been eliminated from contention in the 2011 State Farm Southland Conference Tournament.
UTSA got out to a fast start from the field, as two Devin Gibson triples helped the Roadrunners open up a 16-2 lead. A Terence Jones three-ball snapped the run, and a Justin Reynolds free throw and Hollis Hill three trimmed the deficit to 20-9. After a quick 5-0 run by the Roadrunners, the Islanders mounted a charge with a 7-2 run triggered by five points from Jones and an inside layup from Watt.
The Islanders defense held UTSA without a field goal for a stretch of 7:21 at the end of the half, but offensively the visitors were unable to capitalize. The Roadrunners hit 7-of-8 shots from the stripe to push the advantage to 32-16, before a Watt layin trimmed the deficit to 32-18. Gibson hit a runner in the lane just before the buzzer to make it a 34-18 score at halftime.
After UTSA netted the first basket of the second half, the Islanders went on a 9-3 run to draw within 12. Watt capped off the rally with a three-point play to make it 39-27 in favor of the home squad, forcing a Roadrunner timeout. After the teams traded baskets, the Islanders put forth a 5-0 run, including an impressive putback by Watt after a missed free throw, to make it 41-34.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi was able to trim it to 43-38, but UTSA strung together a 10-0 run to push the advantage back to double digits. Garland Judkins snapped that with four straight points to start a 6-3 run, but a steal and layup at the other end reestablished a 58-44 lead for the Roadrunners. The Islanders were able to trim it to 62-51 at the 5:08 mark, but UTSA was able to track down two straight offensive boards to maintain possession and run the clock down to under four minutes remaining.
The Islanders mounted a brief charge to pull within eight at 64-56, and a turnover off an inbound pass gave the visitors the ball. But Hollis Hill's three-point attempt bounced out after going half way down, and the Roadrunners were able to salt away the victory.
The Islanders return home this weekend for a matchup with Stephen F. Austin on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 1 p.m. CT at the American Bank Center.