CORPUS CHRISTI – Central Arkansas used torrid shooting in the second half to rally for a 76-67 victory over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Saturday on Stripes Court at the American Bank Center. UCA went 8-for-12 from beyond the arc in the stanza to outscore the Islanders 52-33 after the break.
Jarvis Garner led the way with 23 points, while Robert Crawford added 17 and LaQuentin Miles had 15 for the Bears. UCA also posted a decided advantage in second-chance points, 14-6, and used their press to force the Islanders into 12 turnovers while only committing seven of their own.
Joy Williamson (15) and Nate Maxey (13) each posted career-highs in the points column in a losing effort, with Maxey posting four blocks and five rebounds. Hameed Ali added 12 points, while Johnathan Jordan had nine points and nine assists and Will Nelson added nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Islanders.
A&M – Corpus Christi got out to a strong start, with Jordan piloting the team to an early 25-14 lead. The sophomore had six assists on the Islanders' first 11 field goals, three on buckets by Maxey, as the home squad opened an 11-point lead. A three-ball from Williamson capped off the hot start, as the junior scored eight of the first 25 points.
UCA stepped up the defensive pressure, though, and was able to embark on a 6-0 run that trimmed the lead to just five. The teams traded points to make the score 27-22 before the Islanders responded with a 7-0 run of their own, with a Williamson layup, an Ali three and a Jordan runner giving the home squad its biggest lead of the game. A Daouda Berete layup made the score 34-24 at the half.
Out of the break, the Islanders were able to push the lead back to 12 on a pair of free throws by Williamson at 41-29. But Central Arkansas responded with an 11-1 run to make it a two-point game at 42-40, culminating with a jumper by Anthony Borden. The Islanders responded immediately, though, getting consecutive threes by James King and Brandon Pye to push the lead back to eight.
UCA struck again, though, delivering seven straight points, the final three on a triple by Garner to make it 48-47. A Maxey jumper snapped that run, but the Bears got consecutive baskets, including a three for Lenell Brown to take the lead, 52-50. Ali gave the Islanders the lead back with a triple at the shot-clock buzzer at the 7:19 mark.
But UCA was undaunted, coming right back with a triple and consecutive putbacks to push the lead to six. The Islanders trimmed it to three, but the Bears' three-point shooting continued to be the story, as triples by Garner and Crawford spearheaded an 8-2 run to push the lead to nine. From there, the Islanders were unable to stop UCA, which converted both from the field and the free-throw line to finish off the victory.
The Islanders will return to the road for their next action, with a road trip to Nicholls and Southeastern Louisiana up on the schedule. On Thursday, Jan. 24, A&M – Corpus Christi takes on the Colonels in Thibodaux, with tipoff at approximately 8 p.m. Yannis Koutroupis will have the call starting with the pregame show on NewsRadio 1360 KKTX.