LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team was unable to overcome an early second-half surge by Bethune – Cookman on Thursday afternoon, falling by a 61-52 final at the first on-site game of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic. In a game that was just 30-28 at halftime, the Wildcats hit from long range three times just over four minutes into the second half to extend the lead to double digits on the way to a nine-point victory.
The Islanders are now 1-9 on the year following the setback, while Bethune – Cookman improved to 4-8 on the season. Chris Hawkins-Mast scored a team-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds, and James King scored a career-high 10 points as the only other Islanders player in double digits. King played a career-high 25 minutes, shattering his old mark of five minutes against Missouri State.
In the first half, the Islanders were hot from outside early on, hitting four straight three-point shots to start the contest, including a pair from King and one each from Hawkins-Mast and Terence Jones. The first shot from inside the arc came with 11:15 left as Hawkins-Mast hit a jumper to make it 17-11 near the midway point of the opening period.
The Wildcats scored six-straight points to even the game at 17-17, but back-to-back shots from Johnathan Jordan and Hameed Ali made it 21-17 with 7:32 left in the period. With the lead down to one, Wang hit a pair of free throws and blocked a shot on the defensive end to keep it 23-20 at the six-minute mark.
The Wildcats took a brief lead at 28-26 before a tip-in by Wang made it 28-28 with 2:02 left in the opening half. A tip-in by B-C finished the scoring at 30-28 heading into the halftime break.
Hawkins-Mast led all scorers at the break with nine points to go along with six rebounds, while King added a career-high eight in the opening period. Ali, Wang and Myron Dempsey each had one block for the Islanders.
In the second half, it was the Wildcats that were hot early on from long range, hitting three triples in the first 4:10 of game time and finishing with five for the period. The third long-range shot came with 15:50 left on the clock to make the score 41-30 in favor of the Wildcats.
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi would score the next four points on a jumper by Wang and a pair of free throws from Jordan to close the gap to 41-34 with 13:49 left. The run was short-lived however, with B-C extending the advantage to as many as 14 points at the 8:03 mark with another three.
Working their way back into single digits, the Islanders scored seven-straight points on baskets from Dempsey, Hawkins – Mast and Jason Smith, along with a pair of free throws by Hawkins – Mast, to make it a seven-point game at 55-48 with 1:22 left in the contest. The team was unable to get any closer than seven though, falling by a final of 61-52 to B-C.
Next up for the Islanders will be a game on Friday afternoon to close out the Las Vegas Classic. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. CT against the loser of the Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State game. Live stats and audio for the game will be available by visiting www.GoIslanders.com.
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