On Saturday night at the American Bank Center, the Islander women's basketball program did something it had never done before, beat a Southeastern Conference opponent. TAMUCC beat the Alabama Crimson Tide by a 96-90 final in overtime to improve to 2-0 on the season.
Alabama drops to 1-1 on the year. It is just the fourth win over a BCS conference opponent for the Islanders with two wins against West Virginia and one against Indiana before the win on Saturday night.
In the first half of the game, it looked bleak when Alabama opened the game up 5-0 and built a 16-5 lead just six minutes into the half. Jade Davis hit a three-pointer at the 13:18 mark to cut it to 16-8 and get back within single digits. The Tide would extend to lead to as many as 15 points at the 6:34 mark in the half after a jumper by LaToya King. Despite getting the lead down to nine points multiple times, the Islanders would go into the half down by 13 points.
At the half, Alabama had been called for 14 personal fouls while TAMUCC was charged with 13 in the first period.
"The officiating was really tight the first half, losing Elisa Beagle the first two minutes and then losing Shaye Montgomery and Myeisha Myles all around the same time put us in a deep hole," said head coach Robert Robinson. "The kids stuck with it, we were only down 13 at half and the kids battled to keep us in a position to win the game in the second half.
"We challenged them at halftime to keep attacking on the offensive end if they were going to keep calling it that tight."
In the second half, Montgomery hit a three-pointer at 18:26 to start a 13-3 run to make it 57-54 Alabama and cut the lead to just three points. After a made shot by Alabama, Davis hit a three to cut the lead to two points and Adrienne Scott hit a jumper to tie the game at 61-61 with 13:10 left. Davis followed up with another layup to give the Islanders a 63-61 lead, their first of the night.
"We were able to get some stops and some points in transition that got us going in the second half," said Robinson. "They were having a hard time guarding Jade one-on-one so we isolated her and had her run a lot of point guard and come off screen rolls.
"That was really beneficial to her because they were either going to foul her or she was going to go by them and score."
A layup by Beagle and a made free throw by Myles extended the lead to five points at 11:20 before Alabama made a run of their own. Alyson Butler hit a three-pointer and King made a layup for Alabama to even the score at 66-66 at the 10:35 mark. It was the start of an 11-0 run over a span of four minutes to give the Tide a 72-66 lead with 7:11 left in the second half.
Alabama led by seven points at 82-75 with 2:53 left before the Islanders turned up the intensity and began their final push. Deziree Green started the comeback with layup and was followed by a pair of free throws by Scott to cut the deficit to 82-79 with 1:38 left. After a single made free throw by Alabama, Beagle put in a shot to make it 83-81 in favor of the tide with under a minute to play. That set up perhaps the biggest play of the night for the Islanders with Green in the starring role.
After the Tide inbounded the ball, Green stripped the ball from Dedrea Green and took the ball to the rim and hit a layup to tie the game at 83-83 with 55 second left in the period. Neither team was able to score before the final buzzer to set up overtime.
"That was a huge play for us, the crowd definitely got into the game at that point," said Robinson. "We stepped up our defensive intensity and got stops when we had to.
We clamped down on them and that is what got us back."
In overtime, the Islanders scored the first point on a made free throw by Green before a layup by Alabama's King gave the Tide a brief 85-84 lead. A pair of free throws by Scott gave the Islanders the lead again before Davis hit two layups and a free throw to make it 91-85 and give the Islanders a six point lead with 2:13 left in the game. The teams traded points the rest of the way with a pair of Myles free throws sealing it at a 96-90 final.
"This was a huge win for us, the kids stayed with it and really earned the win," said Robinson. "It's always big when you beat an SEC team."
Davis led all scorers in the game with 29 points and was named the tournament MVP. Scott had 16 and Green added 12 as the other Islanders in double digits. Others scorers were Montgomery with nine, Myles with eight, Beagle with six, Lauren Smith with four, Ashley Darley with three and Anitra Jeffery with two points. Beagle added 11 rebounds to lead the team. Montgomery added nine, Myles had eight and Green pulled down seven as the other top rebounders for the Islanders.
TAMUCC out rebounded Alabama by a 52-51 margin after trailing by a 24-15 margin at the half. Alabama was held to just 18% from the three-point line by the Islanders, finishing just 3-17 from behind the arc while AMCC was 8-15 from long range.
The all-tournament team consisted of Tacarra Hayes of Tennessee Tech, Raimee Beck of Air Force, Tierney Jenkins and LaToya King of Alabama and Deziree Green of TAMUCC. The MVP of the tournament also came from the Islanders as Jade Davis took home the hardware after her 29-point performance.
The Islanders have a week off before the travel to Houston for their first road game against Texas Southern. The two teams will play on Saturday, Nov. 21 with a 2 PM start.