CORPUS CHRISTI – Terence Jones scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team to a 74-68 win over Texas State Wednesday night at the American Bank Center. The Islanders closed the game on a 24-10 run to improve to 3-4 in Southland Conference play (4-15 overall).
Jones' 33 were the most by an Islanders player since Kevin Palmer netted 35 against UT Arlington on March 12, 2009. The junior went 9-of-18 from the field and 13-of-14 from the free-throw line to lead the Islanders to the win, breaking a two-game losing streak against the Bobcats.
Chris Hawkins-Mast added 17 points and a career-best 11 rebounds for his first career double-double, while Myron Dempsey added 12 points and eight boards. The Islanders shot a season-best 72.7 percent (24-of-33) from the line in the win. Texas State was led by 18 points from Eddie Rios and Matt Staff, while Vonn Jones had a game-high six assists and three steals. The Bobcats won the battle of the boards, 41-39.
The Islanders started out cold for the third straight game, and the Bobcats jumped out to an early 10-0 lead before Hawkins-Mast put the home squad on the board with a pair of free throws. The Bobcats pushed the lead to 15-4 before the Islanders went on a 15-2 run, in which Texas State went 0-for-8 from the field, to take a 19-17 lead at the 11:17 mark. From there the two teams went back-and-forth, with the squads knotted at 24-all with 7:59 to go before the break.
The Bobcats slowed the Islanders from the field at that point, but the Islanders got four points at the free throw line to counter four Texas State points to make it 28-all with 5:38 left. After a Jones jumper tied the game at 30, Texas State scored the next four points to gain a 34-30 advantage with 1:11 to go in the half. Brooks Ybarra's two free throws pushed it to 36-30 with less than a minute to go, before the Islanders struck back with a Jordan Pope-Didier layup in the closing seconds to leave the score 36-32 Bobcats at the break.
After the half, the teams went back-and-forth for a 42-40 Bobcats lead, but the visitors went on a quick 5-0 run to pull ahead by seven. Jones responded, scoring the next six points for the Islanders, but a pair of Texas State fast-break layups countered and the Bobcats remained ahead 51-46. Texas State added to the lead with a 7-2 run, and the Bobcats were up by double digits, 58-48, with 10:13 to go.
That's when the Islanders erupted for a 9-0 run, forcing a Bobcats timeout. Jake Kocher capped off the rally with a three from the right wing, his first points of the night. Rios broke the run with a bucket, but Jones responded with a pair of free throws to make it 60-59. With just under seven minutes remaining, Texas State got a crucial call, as Dempsey was called for a goaltend on a play with a foul, and Matt Staff finished the three-point play to make it 63-59.
Jones again had a huge response for the Islanders, drilling a three from the corner to trim the deficit to 63-62. At that point, the back-and-forth reached frantic proportions, with each team delivering blows on each end of the court. The Bobcats held a 68-67 lead with two minutes left, when Hawkins-Mast delivered the decisive shot – a runner in the lane to put the Islanders up 69-68.
Johnathan Jordan came up big after a steal, hitting a pair of free throws with 1:28 on the clock to push the home team's lead to 71-68. The Islanders got another big stop on defense, and Jones stepped to the line, sinking both, to push the lead to five. Kocher wrapped the scoring with a shot at the line, and the Islanders emerged with their second straight victory.
Up next for the Islanders will be the 2012 Homecoming game, slated for Saturday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m. Stephen F. Austin will visit the Coastal Bend for a matchup at the American Bank Center. For tickets, visit GoIslanders.com or call 825-BALL.