Katy - The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's basketball team reached a new high in the program's history with their 74-66 win over the Northwestern State Lady Demons on Thursday afternoon. The win marks the first time the Islanders have reached the finals of the Southland Conference Tournament in their four-year Southland history.
TAMUCC improves to 22-9 on the year, their second-highest win total in school history behind the 23 in 2004-05 when they advanced to the WNIT. They will have a chance to match that total on Friday night against either Lamar or UT Arlington.
Anitra Jeffery set a new career-high for the second time in as many games, grabbing 12 boards to go along with 12 points for her first double-double of her Islander career. The 12 rebounds marked the first time in her Islander career that she reached the double digit mark. She came into the tournament averaging 3.1 points per game and has averaged 12.5 in the two games in Katy. Jade Davis led the team in scoring with 19 points, just missing her ninth 20-point game of the season. Elisa Beagle just missed another double-double, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring nine points.
In the first half, the two teams went back-and-forth with the lead as neither team was able to gain more than a five-point advantage. There were six lead changes and 10 ties, the last one coming when the Lady Demons hit a layup as time expired to knot it at 40-40 heading into halftime.
The biggest deficit of the half for TAMUCC came with 8:41 left following an NSU free throw to make it 27-23. The Islanders scored the next nine points to go from down four to up five, 32-27, with 6:48 to go in the half. A tip-in by Anitra Jeffery, a lay-in by Adrienne Scott and a three-point shot by Montgomery highlighted the 9-0 run.
They were unable to sustain the lead as the Lady Demons slowly worked it down to two points with two seconds left. Brooke Shepherd took the inbounds pass and put it up to even the score as time expired.
Shaye Montgomery was the first half star for the Islanders, scoring 11 points and going 3-of-4 from the three-point line. Jeffery and Davis each scored eight as the trio made up the bulk of the Islander scoring.
In the second half, Davis got the hot hand early on, outscoring the Lady Demons by a 7-2 margin in the first three minutes of the half to stretch the lead back to five at 47-42. Over the next five minutes, NSU worked its way back into the lead, outscoring TAMUCC 10-3 to take a 52-50 advantage.
Lauren Smith hit a pair of free throws to tie the game and later pushed the Islander lead back to five points at 61-56 with 8:19 left in the game when she hit a three pointer from the corner. A pair of free throws by Beagle eventually stretched the lead to seven, the largest for either team up to that point in the game.
A Jeffery free throw put the lead at eight with just three minutes to go in the game before the Lady Demons cut it to four points with under a minute left to play. Four made free throws by Davis put the lead back to eight and end the scoring at a 74-66 final.
The Islanders now await their opponent in the final women's game of the tournament on Friday night. They will play the winner of the Lamar vs. UT Arlington game that followed in the second game of the day.
Steven King will call the action on ESPN 1230 AM KSIX at 7:05 PM on Friday night. The game will be available on Southland TV or online at www.GoIslanders.com.