KATY, Texas – Four players scored in double figures for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team, but Sam Houston State toppled the Islanders in a defensive struggle, 69-63, in the Southland Conference semifinals on Saturday. It snapped a seven-game winning streak for A&M-Corpus Christi (17-15).
Hameed Ali led the Islanders with 12 points, while John Jordan added 11 and Jake Kocher and Rashawn Thomas posted 10 apiece. Jordan dished out six assists to give him 163 on the season, the third time in as many seasons that he has broken the school record.
Kaheem Ransom led all scorers with 15 points, while James Thomas (12) and Jabari Peters (11) also finished in double figures. The Bearkats had a strong game from Michael Holyfield, with nine boards, to lead them to 12 offensive rebounds in the contest. SHSU also was strong at the line down the stretch, shooting 21-for-29 in the second half to hold off the Islanders.
A&M-Corpus Christi limited the Bearkats to just four field goals (4-for-18) in the second half after SHSU went 14-for-25 from the field in the opening stanza.
Out of the gates, the two teams traded threes, and a layup for Ali put the Islanders ahead 5-3. But the Bearkats used a combination of offensive rebounds and three-pointers to push the lead to 13-9. Kocher got two points back on a nice layup, but the Bearkats responded again, pushing the lead to 20-14. Layups by Zane Knowles and Ali then trimmed it to 20-18.
SHSU then embarked on a 12-0 run to pull ahead by 14. Will Bond started the rally with a triple, and Peters finished it with a three-point play to push the lead to 32-18. The Islanders got it back to nine after a three-point play for Thomas at the 2:02 mark, and from there, the two teams traded points into the locker room, with the Bearkats holding a 39-29 edge at the break.
Out of the break, both teams started slow on the offensive end, but Sam Houston State pushed the lead to 45-31 after two free throws by James Thomas. The Islanders then embarked on a methodic 9-0 run to cut the lead to five, holding the Bearkats without a point over eight straight possessions, spanning 7:25. But SHSU was solid on the defensive end as well, holding A&M-Corpus Christi to 2-for-12 from the field out of the break.
The Bearkats got four straight points at the line to push the lead back to nine, and from there, the teams repeatedly traded blows to a 54-47 score. As the game got into the closing minutes, fouls began to pile up, and SHSU converted at the stripe to push the lead to 11, 59-48. From there, the Bearkats were able to parry every Islanders field goal, finishing off the game at the line to emerge victorious by six.
At 17-15, the Islanders are eligible for selection in a postseason tournament, with the National Invitation Tournament, College Basketball Invitational and College Insider Tournament all set to select their fields on Sunday following the NCAA Tournament selection show.
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