Saturday, March 11, 2017

New Orleans, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi punch tickets to Southland Tournament final

By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2017 TexSport Publications

KATY, TEXAS (March 11, 2017) The Final has been determined. The New Orleans Privateers will face the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders in the championship game of the 2017 Southland Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament. The game, scheduled for 8:30 p.m. CST will be played at the Leonard E. Merrell Center in Katy, Texas on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Both teams advanced to the title game by defeating their conference foes in the semi-final round on Friday, March 10.

The No. 1 Privateers downed No.  5 Sam Houston State 75-63 in the first semi-final game while the No 2. Islanders beat No. 3 Stephen F. Austin by the score of 66-64. The final will match two high-powered offenses with the winner automatically qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. Erik Thomas led New Orleans with 18 points.  Christavious Gill scored 15 points and recorded three of New Orleans’ ten steals. Privateers head coach stated in the post-game press conference, “It’s a great culmination for our university. From the president’s office on down, this is a team effort.” The win was the first for New Orleans over Sam Houston State since joining the Southland Conference in 2013.

In the second semi-final game, the Islanders jumped out to an early lead, building on the mistakes and less-than-average shooting of Sam Houston. TAMU-CC defended heavily on forward Rashawn Thomas, who scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed nine rebounds to go along with three steals and a pair of blocks. The Lumberjacks worked their way back from a 55-37 deficit at the 13:23 mark of the second half cut the Islanders’ lead 68-63, but it was not enough. Head coach Willis Wilson was quoted: “This was just a long, hard-fought game. I don’t know another way to describe it.” 

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