LAKE CHARLES, La. — Top-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi showed why they are the team to beat as they pulled away from No. 8 seed and underdog McNeese with an 80-63 victory to move on to the championship game of the Jersey Mike's Southland Basketball Championships presented by LouisianaTravel.com.
The Islanders make their second straight appearance and fifth overall in the championship game. A&M-Corpus Christi is 2-2 in the championship game including winning last season's title over Southeastern.
De'Lazarus Keys led the Islanders with 18 points and 10 boards, while Terrion Murdix has 17 points, six assists, and four rebounds. Trevian Tennyson scored 16 points and Jalen Jackson had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Christian Shumate continued his incredible performance with 30 points and 15 rebounds. Shumate set a new tournament record with 41 total rebounds throughout the week, breaking the former mark of 37 set by Ronnie Morgan of North Texas in 1990.
The early goings saw both sides finding early success on the offensive end as it was knotted up at 11 in the first eight minutes. A 9-0 run including five points from Ross Williams elevated the Islanders ahead 20-11 at the nine minute mark.
From there, the mix of the Islanders hard-to-guard offense along with excellent defense helped A&M-Corpus Christi build a 15 point lead.
McNeese battled back behind the work of Shumate while Johnathan Massie connected on a three at the buzzer to make it a 36-28 game going into the break.
The Cowboys got it down to five early in the second half, but that was as close as they could get as the deep Islanders began to pull away, extending their lead to 12 and hanging on to their double-digit lead throughout the second half.
A McNeese squad who had battled so well the previous two nights just did not have the gas anymore as the Islanders pulled away and set up their date on Wednesday's championship game, taking the 80-63 win.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi will battle No. 2 Northwestern State in the Southland Championship Game at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN2.