CORPUS CHRISTI – Freshman Jelani Currie had a career-high 13 points, but Cal State Fullerton used a 12-3 second-half run to gain a lead it would not relinquish in a 63-57 win over the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi men's basketball team on Saturday at the Dugan Wellness Center.
Kwame Vaughn led all scorers with 18 points for the Titans, while D.J. Seeley (16) and Alex Harris (13) also finished in double figures for Fullerton. The Titans won the battle of the boards, 31-29.
For the Islanders, Hameed Ali added 11 points to Currie's 13, while Will Nelson snared 12 rebounds in the contest. The home squad's bench netted 33 points to the visitors' eight, as Nelson added eight and Brandon Pye did as well.
After the Islanders opened the game with a Johnathan Jordan jumper, the Titans went on a 9-2 run, sparked by a three-pointer by Harris to open a 9-4 lead. The two teams then cooled off at the offensive end, with Fullerton pushing the advantage to 15-10 at the 8:09 mark.
At that point, the two squads started to trade baskets in rapid succession, with Cal State Fullerton putting the lead at 20-15 on a Jared Brandon layup. That's when the Islanders went on a 9-0 run to garner a 24-20 advantage at the 2:49 mark. Pye and Currie did the bulk of the damage, with a Pye three capping the run. From there, the Islanders and Titans traded blows to a 29-25 score, before Fullerton scored the last three points of the half to send it to the break at 29-28.
The teams again battled back and forth in the second half with the Titans pulling ahead slightly. A Currie layup tied the game at 40-40 with 10:34 to play, but shortly thereafter, a crucial over-and-back call went against the Islanders during a 12-3 run that pushed the Fullerton lead to 52-43.
The Islanders responded with a 7-1 run of their own, as Ali provided a jumper and huge three from the right corner to trim it to 53-50 with 2:29 to play. But Vaughn came up huge for the Titans at that point, getting a layup and then a steal-and-layup to push the lead back to seven. The Islanders got several stops and converted free throws on the other end, pulling it to a two-point deficit at 57-55 with 33 seconds remaining.
The Titans got two free throws from Vaughn to push it back to four, and then Ali's three came up short to give Fullerton the ball back. The visitors missed the front end of a 1-and-1 to give the Islanders another shot, but Jordan's layup rimmed out and the Titans were able to hit their free throws the rest of the way to ice the win.
The Islanders will return to action with their final two home games of the season next weekend. A&M – Corpus Christi hosts Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday, Feb. 28, before taking on Nicholls on Saturday, March 2. Both games will be played on Stripes Court at the American Bank Center and will tip at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, please call 825-BALL (2255) or visit the tickets link on GoIslanders.com.