(Courtesy: UCA Basketball)
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Texas A&M-Corpus Christi did not make as many free throws as the University of Central Arkansas did on Thursday night, but it made enough of the ones it needed down the stretch to pull away for an 84-73 victory in Southland Conference play at the American Bank Center.
UCA, which fell to 6-17 overall and 3-9 in league play, shot a stellar 81 percent from the line (17 of 21), but the Islanders hit 9 of 15 at the line in the final 4:55 to break open what was a one-point game, 71-70, with five minutes remaining. UCA had four costly turnovers in that same span and was forced to foul A&M-CC.
"We just couldn't stop them when we really needed to get a stop,' said UCA head coach Clarence Finley. "We were so close but we were so far away because we just couldn't get the stops. We knocked down free throws tonight. We made 81 percent and made some big free throws. And we really scored enough points to win.
"But they just scored too many points in the paint. We had a turnover here, a turnover there. We had a breakdown defensively. There was just a time in the game, when we just had to have a stop, and on numerous ocassions, we just couldn't get them stopped as a team.'
The Islanders (12-14, 9-4) shot 66 percent from the field for the game (33 of 50), including a whopping 73.1 percent in the first half, but could not put away the Bears until the final four minutes. A&M-CC outscored UCA 13-3 in the final 4:55 to sweep the season series.
A&M-CC finished with five players in double figures, with Hameed Ali leading the way with 16 points. Zane Knowles and Rashawn Thomas added 14 points each, while Brandon Pye was 3 of 3 from three-point range for 13 points.
Miles, a senior guard from Jacksonville, finished with a game-high 25 points, hitting 9 of 11 at the free-throw line. It was Miles' 11th game to score at least 20 points this season in 15 outings. Freshman guard DuShaun Rice added 13 points for the Bears, hitting 3 of 6 from three-point range.
The Bears continue their road swing on Saturday at Houston Baptist, a team they beat 86-69 at the Farris Center back in January.