Turns out a break is just what the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's basketball team needed, who returned to the court with a 81-76 victory over the Houston Cougars at the American Bank Center. It was the first time back on the court since a 61-60 game on Dec. 19 at Texas-Pan American.
The Islanders are now 7-3 while Houston falls to 6-6 on the year. It was the first win by a Southland Conference team against UH as UT Arlington, Texas State and UTSA had all previously lost to the Cougars this season.
"I knew our players would be excited about the opportunity to play Houston seeing as we have so many players from the Houston area," said head coach Robert Robinson. "It was a great thing for our kids to come out at home and play hard for 40 minutes.
"We deserved this win and we went out there and got it."
Elisa Beagle had a career-high in rebounds with 17 along with 15 points to help lead the Islanders to their first win against Houston. They were 0-4 all-time against the Cougars coming into the game. She also tied another career record as Beagles' 20th career double-double tied her with Terra Andrews for the all-time career mark. The 17 rebounds were just two off the all-time high of 19 rebounds by Jackie Ododa. Ododa had 19 rebounds twice in her career, once against IPFW in 2004 and in 2005 against Indiana.
"Elisa has been talking about this game for the last two days," said Robinson. "She was very fired up about this one and it was nice to see her come out and dominate the way she did."
Other TAMUCC players in double digits were Shaye Montgomery and Adrienne Scott with 13 apiece while Jade Davis, Lauren Smith and Myeisha Myles finished with 10 each. The Islanders out rebounded the Cougars by a 52-42 margin.
"Six kids in double figures, as a head coach you really can't ask for more than that," said Robinson. "We dominated them on the boards which has been a strength for us all year long."
The first half was a back-and-forth affair that saw six ties and four lead changes. With the game even at 4-4, the Islanders went on a 7-0 run to take an 11-4 lead, their biggest of the half. A made free throw by Deziree Green was followed by lay ups from Scott, Myles and Smith to put TAMUCC in the lead. The Cougars responded with a 17-4 run to go from down seven to up six points for a 21-15 lead in just four minutes of action.
Beagle came up big on the boards, pulling down six in the first five minutes of the game to keep second-chance points to a minimum. Houston was only able to score four points on second-chance opportunities. By controlling the boards, TAMUCC was able to work its way back to even at 28-28 with five minutes left in the half. The two teams were nearly even the rest of the way as a Davis jumper with nine seconds until half was the difference, making it 38-36 Islanders heading into the break.
Beagle just missed a double-double in the first half, pulling down 10 rebounds and scoring nine points. She led the team in both scoring and rebounding while Montgomery hit a key pair of three pointers and scored eight points in the half. TAMUCC outpaced the Cougars by a 12-4 margin in second-chance points and out rebounded Houston 28-16 in the period.
The second half started the way the first ended with both teams battling and keeping the game close. There were three more ties in the first four minutes, the last one coming at 44-44 with 15:53 left in the game. From that point on, TAMUCC took control of the game, stretching the lead to as many as 14 points with a 67-53 score.
The Cougars whittled away at the lead late in the game after Green fouled out, getting it to 74-71, but were never able to get any closer as the Islanders made key free throws at the end. TAMUCC extended the lead all the way back to seven before finishing with a pair of Scott free throws to make it an 81-76 final score.
"Losing Deziree the last four minutes of the ball game kind of hurt us," said Robinson. "Without her steady hand out there we got a little too excited at the end and tried to do a little too much."
TAMUCC has a quick turnaround as they will be back in action on Wednesday afternoon against Colorado State. Tip-off is set for 2 PM at the American Bank Center against the Rams. CSU comes into the game with a 7-4 record with their most recent game a 65-56 loss to in-state rival Northern Colorado.
Fans can follow all the action by listening to ESPN 1230 AM as Steven King calls the action. Live video and stats will be available by visiting www.GoIslanders.com.