GAME NOTES: The Islander Basketball Tournament comes to a close on Sunday afternoon, as hosts, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders take on the Texas- Pan American Broncs.
After winning its opening-round matchup against Tennessee Tech on a last- second 3-pointer (81-78), UTPA fell on the wrong end of a close final on Saturday, losing to IUPU-Fort Wayne, 66-60, to dip to 2-3 on the season. In a tightly-played second half, the Broncs managed to tie the score on four separate occasions, but were never able to overtake the lead. They shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the loss, including a dreadful 1-of-14 from 3- point range, although Javorn Farrell was immune to his teammates' struggles, as he finished 9-of-16 from the floor for 22 points. Shaquille Hines was the only other UTPA player to tally double figures, doing so with his 11 points.
Much like UTPA, TXA&M-CC claimed victory in its Friday night bout on a last- second field goal (72-71 over IUPU-Fort Wayne), only to lose a close one on Saturday night. The Islanders found themselves trailing TTU by 10 points with under four minutes to play, only to heat up down the stretch, and a Hameed Ali 3-pointer with 15 seconds left brought them within two points. TTU missed a pair of free throws to give TXA&M-CC a chance, but Ali's jumper in the waning seconds did not fall. John Jordan and Jeff Beverly each netted 18 points in the setback, while Jordan also added nine rebounds and three steals. Ali scored 12 points, but the rest of the Islanders who saw action (nine players) combined for just a dozen.
These two Lone Star State rivals have played each other close over the years, with UTPA holding a 29-27 series advantage.
UTPA is shooting 42.2 percent from the field (including just 24.7 percent from 3-point range) for 74.6 points per game, while allowing opponents to net nearly as many points (72.0 ppg). Farrell has been the top scorer in the early going with 16.4 points per game, although he has turned the ball over 17 times while handing out only 11 assists. Shaquille Boga puts up 13.2 points per game, while Justin Leathers (11.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Shaquille Hinds (9.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) are both reliable options in the paint.
TXA&M-CC has not found much success offensively this season, scoring 65.2 points per game on less than 42 percent field goal shooting, but it has made up for it by playing strong defense, holding foes to just 64.5 points per game. Jordan (19.5 ppg) is the clear choice at the offensive end, as he has attempted nearly twice as many field goals as his closest teammate. Jordan is more than a one-trick pony though, as he contributes 6.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals per game, and gets to the foul line 10 times per game (.725). Beverly adds 10.8 points per game, and Zane Knowles grabs 10.0 caroms per contest.
This has been a relatively even tournament in terms of talent, with all four teams going 1-1. With the event coming to a close, expect TXA&M-CC to defend its home court in style.
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