Wednesday night marked the return of the nation’s leader in steals, Devin Gibson, to the Convocation Center and he did not disappoint as he scored 14 points and four steals coming off of the bench to lead the Runners to a 73-66 victory over the western division leading A&M Corpus Christi Islanders.
The Runners entered the game following a heartbreaking loss to UT-Arlington. Early on they showed they would try to avoid the same outcome. After the Islanders took the lead at 5-4 with 17:31 left in the first half, the Runners took charge and went on a 19-4 run over the next seven minutes to lead 23-9 with 10 minutes until the half.
The Islanders however used a 13-10 run to cut the Runners lead to 29-22 with 4:47 remaining. The Runners were able to add one off of an Omar Johnson free throw. A Filip Toncinic jump shot and Demond Watt dunked, got the Islanders to within four at 30-26 with 1:39 left.
The Runners got their lead back up to eight with :35 seconds left, but Kevin Palmer put in two of his 13 first half points with 14 seconds left to send the teams into the half with UTSA up 34-28.
The second half began as the first had ended with Palmer putting in four of the first six Islander points to tie the game at 36-36 with 17:03 remaining. The Runners responded with an 8-3 run to bring the lead to five at 44-39 with 13:03 left in the game.
A few missed shots by the Runners left the door open as the Islanders took their third lead of the night at 46-44 with 11:48 remaining. The Runners finally broke their slump and took the lead back at 49-48 after a Morris Smith IV 3-pointer.
Late in the second half, UTSA would go on a 5-2 run to go up 64-62 with 3:53 left. Coombs responded for the Islanders with a 3-pointer at the 3:38 mark to put the Islanders in front at 65-64. It would be the last time the Islanders led as the Runners responded by going on a 9-1 run to end the game and walk out with a 73-66 win over the Islanders.
Leaders for the Runners were Gibson with 14 points, six rebounds, and four steals, Smith IV with 11 points, Travis Gabbidon and Chris Allen finished with 10 points followed by Demarco Stepter who finished with nine points and eight rebounds.
Player of the Game Gibson was excited to be back on the home court in front of the favorable crowd.
“I just went out there and attacked,” Gibson said. “It was good to get back out there, I always try and play up to their expectations.”
“It always seems to put us in a better position when they come out and support us so we need them to keep coming out.”
Gibson later gave the credit for the team holding on to win to Demarco Stepter’s clutch plays.
“Demarco came up with two big rebounds as well as two free throws that really changed the momentum of the game,” Gibson said. “His plays killed their last run, we just had energy tonight.”
Head Coach Brooks Thompson was pleased to have Gibson back out on the court for the Runners.
“Devin is just a winner, he does things to help the team win but in the end it was just a whole team effort,” Thompson said. “But its always good to have Devin Gibson out there.”