TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (4-9, 0-0) AT MCNEESE STATE UNIVERSITY (10-4, 0-0)
CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team will tip-off the New Year at McNeese State on Saturday, Jan. 7 to begin Southland Conference play. The Islanders open the conference with a 4-9 record and sit at 2-4 on the road.
The Islanders wrapped the non-conference portion of the season at Indiana on Tuesday, Dec. 27 after a nine-day break for the holiday season. Senior Myeisha Myles and sophomore Marquesha Anderson-Sparks paced the team with double-digit scoring efforts but the Islanders couldn't overcome Indiana's second-half shooting, falling 80-58.
The Islanders are 4-1 all-time in conference openers with two of the wins coming against McNeese State. Last season the Islanders finished last in the Southland finishing 0-16.
McNeese State is second in the Southland with a 10-4 record and will continue a four-game homestand after hosting Wiley College on Tuesday. The Cowboys sit at 5-1 at home. Last season, McNeese State won the conference regular season title with a 15-1 record, while clinching the conference tournament and advancing to the NCAA tournament.
Saturday's game will mark the sixth meeting between the two schools.
• Myeisha Myles is leading the team with an average of 11.2 points per game, 7.3 rebounds a game and has a total of 14 blocks this season. She has seven double-digit scoring games this season and two double-doubles.
• Verne'qua Taylor is leading the conference with an average of 4.3 assists a game with a total of 56 assists in 13 games and leads the team with an average of 31.1 minutes a game. She has dished out four or more assists in seven of the Islanders' 13 games and in four of those games she has tallied six or more assists.
• The Islanders are 4-1 in conference openers with two of the wins coming against McNeese State.
LAST TIME OUT
After a nine-break for the holidays, the Islanders returned to action against Big Ten foe Indiana in Bloomington, Ind. Senior Myeisha Myles and sophomore Marquesha Anderson-Sparks paced the Islanders with double-digit scoring efforts but the Islanders couldn't overcome Indiana University's second-half shooting, falling 80-58, Tuesday night at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. Myles powered the Islanders with her seventh double-digit scoring game with 19 points and grabbed five boards. Anderson-Sparks scored her fifth double-digit scoring game with 11 points in her fourth start of the season and pulled down a season-high seven rebounds. Junior Jessica Jammer chipped in nine points and five rebounds and junior Verne'qua Taylor dished out seven assists.
SCOUTING THE COWBOYS
McNeese State heads into Saturday's game with a 10-4 overall record and sits at 5-1 at home. The Cowboys continue their four-game homestand while hosting three out of the four to conference opponents.
The Cowboys are coming off a 2010-11 season that saw them tie for the best turnaround from the previous season. McNeese State topped Central Arkansas in the conference tournament last season and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history, falling to eventual champion Texas A&M. McNeese State only dropped one conference game last season, dropping a 74-73 loss to Central Arkansas on the road.
This season, the Cowboys have lost three of their four games on the road, falling to UCLA in the Preseason WNIT, Baylor and Texas A&M. Their only lost at home came against LSU. The Cowboys snapped a two-game losing Tuesday against Wiley College, cruising to 82-54, win to finish their non-conference schedule.
On the season, McNeese State averages 67.9 points, shoots .381 from the floor (323-of-847), .350 percent (100-of-286) from three-point range and .701 (204-of-291) from the line. Individually, the Cowboys are led by Caitlyn Baggett with 14.6 points per game and leads the team with 58 assists. Ashlyn Baggett is second on the team in points with 14.1 points per game while Kendra Wells leads the Cowboys with 8.1 rebounds per game.
Saturday's game will mark the sixth meeting between the two schools with the Islanders holding a 3-2 advantage. The last time the two teams met up was at home on Jan. 8, 2011. The Islanders dropped a 76-51 decision at the American Bank Center. Jessica Jammer, Imani Dunn, Brandi Huff, Zoe Vega-Vega and Taryn Gregory all saw action with Vega-Vega and Gregory leading the returners with five points. Gregory also tallied three assists and one steal in 24 minutes of play.
The Islanders last win against McNeese State came on Feb. 20, 2010 at home. The Islanders garnered a 10-point victory, 72-62, and went on to finish with a 24-11 record. Myeisha Myles registered 12 points and two steals in 18 minutes and Dunn and Jammer added four and five points, respectively.
This season the Islanders have depth on their roster, something they have lacked in the past. This season, the Islanders bench has outscored their opponents' bench 291-263. Freshman Trish Amboree leads the bench with 7.2 points per game and sophomore Marquesha Anderson-Sparks is second with 6.8 points per game.
The Islanders are outrebounding their opponents 593-578 with an average of 45.6 rebounds per game. Myeisha Myles is leading the team on the glass with 7.3 rebounds per game. Jessica Jammer is second with 6.9 rebounds per game while Damequia Montgomery is third with 6.2. The Islanders have been a force on the defensive end, tallying 383 rebounds to their opponent's 362. Jammer and Myles have combined for a total of 118 defensive rebounds.
COWBOYS OR SUGAR BEARS
Saturday's game will mark the third time the Islanders have opened the conference against the Cowboys with the Islanders other two openers coming against the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears. The Islanders are 2-1 against the Cowboys and 2-0 against the Sugar Bears in conference openers.
AT A GLANCE
The Islanders finished 2-4 in the month of December and 2-5 in November this season. Since its first season of basketball in 1999-2000 the Islanders are 49-40 in the month of January.
Head coach Robert Robinson is within two games of reaching the 70-win mark. Robinson currently sits at 68 wins in his six years as head coach at the Island University.
GOING THE MYLE
Senior Myeisha Myles has stepped up for the Islanders as of late. She posted a balanced attack for the Islanders against SMU and Indiana. Myles registered her sixth double-digit scoring game with 17 points and six rebounds while adding two assists and two steals in 30 minutes of play against SMU. She also made 3-of-6 from behind the charity stripe. Against the Hoosiers, Myles powered the Islanders with her seventh double-digit scoring game of the season with a team-high 19 points and grabbed five boards, while also adding three blocks and two steals in 25 minutes of play.
This season, Myles has registered two double-doubles and leads the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game and in rebounds with 7.3 rebounds per game. Myles is second on the team with an average of 27.2 minutes per game. She currently leads the conference with a .551 (59-107) field goal percentage.
TALE OF NENE
Verne'qua "Nene" Taylor leads the team at the point guard position and has no problem sharing the ball. The junior is currently leading the conference with an average of 4.3 assists a game with a total of 56 assists in 13 games in a team-high 31.1 minutes per game.
Against SMU, the Wharton, Texas native, posted a season-high 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and dished out eight assists while jumpstarting the Islanders scoring in the second half. At Indiana, the junior passed out seven assists, while tallying four points and five rebounds in 33 minutes.
She is averaging 6.5 points per game, 4.4 rebounds and is second on the team in steals with 15.
The Islanders were picked to finish last in the Southland West Division after finishing last in the conference last season.
The Islanders will return home to host UTSA on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the American Bank Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.