CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Two undefeated teams in the Southland Conference came in and only one emerged Saturday at the American Bank Center. Three-time defending champion Stephen F. Austin handed the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi men's basketball team its first defeat in league play, winning 66-61.
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The back-and-forth game featured nine lead changes, neither team led by more than eight points, and the contest was tied for over six minutes of play in front of a season-high crowd of 2,348.
"That's the kind of college basketball game you want to be a part of," Head Coach Willis Wilson said. "Unfortunately for us, we came out on the wrong side.
"A lot of that had to do with what we did down the stretch," Wilson continued. "I just don't think our defensive execution was where it needed to be and our level of focus on some of our assignments weren't near where we needed them to be."
Trailing 53-51, the Islanders (16-4, 7-1) scored six straight points to take a 57-53 advantage with just 3:23 to play in the game. Six-foot senior Brandon Pye started the spurt with a tough take in the lane and junior Rashawn Thomas continued it with a pair of free throws and a bucket to give the Islanders their four-point lead.
It was at that point that the Lumberjacks (15-5, 8-0) turned it on. SFA went on an 11-0 run to regain the advantage and essentially put the Islanders away, at 64-57 with 18 seconds on the clock.
Last year's Southland Conference Player of the Year Thomas Walkup was integral during the stretch, scoring four points and assisting on another basket to give the Lumberjacks the late lead.
Walkup led all scorers with 17 points, recording 13 in the second half. Clide Geffrard added 15 points and nine rebounds, Demetrious Floyd went for 11 points, and Ty Charles chipped in with 10 points and eight boards.
Bryce Douvier led the Islanders with 16 points and nine rebounds in the defeat. Thomas added 14 points and a game high four blocked shots, while Pye finished with 11 points on three 3-pointers.
A&M-Corpus Christi will look to rebound on Tuesday when the Islanders travel to San Antonio to take on Incarnate Word. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with coverage on Time Warner Sports Channel and the Islanders Digital Network.
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