LAKE CHARLES, LA (ISLANDERS ATHLETICS) - With one minute to play and the lead hanging precariously at three, senior Jake Kocher drove from the wing and dropped an acrobatic up-and-under around McNeese's Stephen Ugochukwu to ice a 73-66 win for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Islanders (14-9, 7-5) were powered by the usual suspects as Rashawn Thomas and Ehab Amin each went for double-doubles. Thomas did the majority of his damage in the first half, punishing the Cowboys (7-17, 4-9) to the tune of 19 points and nine rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.
The second half belonged to Amin as he tallied 12 of his 15 points and 8 of 11 boards in the second 20. For Amin, it was his third double-double of the season while Thomas recorded his 10th.
"When you go on the road it's one possession at a time," said head coach Willis Wilson. "I thought we did a good job. We were able to build a pretty big lead in the first half, but as anticipated in college basketball, the home team fought their way back in it. They did the same thing in the second half. But, when it counted we got it done with defense and did a good job of playing inside out on the offensive end. We're just real fortunate to come away with a win today."
A&M-Corpus Christi opened a 16-point advantage in the first half as the Islanders used a 10-2 run to take a 37-21 lead with six minutes to play in the half. McNeese would answer with a 12-4 run in the final four minutes to cut the deficit in half at the break.
On four different occasions in the second half, the Islanders pushed the lead to double digits but the Cowboys would not go away quietly. A 13-4 run, capped by an Ugochukwu lay-in, brought the lead all the way down to one with just 2:50 to play.
DEFENSE MAKES DIFFERENCE
In the final 2:50 seconds of the game, the Islanders got four consecutive stops to salt away their fifth-straight victory. The Blue and Green held the Cowboys scoreless for 2:39 seconds as they turned a 1-point advantage into seven.
On the night, the Islanders held McNeese to just 37-percent from the floor, including an 11-for-33 mark in the second half. The .373 shooting performance from the Cowboys marks the lowest opponent percentage since November 23 for the Islanders.
>> Kareem South rounded out a trio of Islanders in double figures as he scored 10 on the night.
>> Jake Kocher racked up eight points, none bigger than his up-and-under to push the lead to five with 58 seconds to play.
>> Colin Hale scored a career-high five points on 2-of-3 from the floor including a three.
The Islanders will return to the court on Wednesday night as they head to Incarnate Word for the final game before homecoming on February 18.
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