Thomas sank 9-of-11 shots from the floor and swiped three steals for the Islanders (18-15), who will advance to the second round where they will face an opponent yet to be determined. John Jordan added 16 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Jeff Beverly scored 12 points in just 16 minutes. Joke Kocher also contributed 12 points, while Hameed Ali had 10 points and four assists.
Derrick Barden led the Bears (18-14) as he tallied 18 points, seven boards, three steals and three blocked shots. Tate Unruh chipped in 15 points, while Tevin Svihovec tallied 13 points and seven assists. Cody McDavis provided a spark off the bench by making all five of his field goal attempts for 11 points.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi managed to build a 36-31 advantage on the scoreboard with just over a minute remaining before the intermission, but the Bears scored four consecutive points to narrow the deficit to just one point by halftime. UNC trailed at the break despite shooting 54.2 percent from the floor in the first half. The Islanders knocked down 5-of-8 attempts from 3- point range before the break.
The Islanders used a 10-2 run to take a 67-57 lead with only 6:19 remaining in regulation and did not let the hosts get any closer than seven points the rest of the way.
The contest featured seven ties and seven lead changes. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's bench outscored the Bears' reserves, 40-20. The Islanders made 53.8 percent of their field goal attempts, including a 9-of-17 clip from beyond the arc, and converted 17-of-20 tries at the charity stripe. The Bears finished 14-of-24 at the free-throw line.