TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-12, 0-2 SLC) AT MCNEESE STATE (6-8, 1-2 SLC)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team continues Southland Conference play Thursday when they travel to Lake Charles, La. to take on the two-time defending conference tournament champion McNeese State. The Islanders are looking for its first conference victory of the season while the Cowgirls are looking for its first home conference victory. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off a 66-47 home loss to Stephen F. Austin in the first conference home game of the season.
Thursday's game will mark just the seventh meeting between the two teams. The Cowgirls and Islanders have each claimed three wins apiece. Last season, McNeese State sealed a 66-51 victory in Lake Charles, La.
Head Coach Royce Chadwick is in his first year as the Islanders' Head Coach. Chadwick, who spent the previous 11 years at the helm of the Marshall University program, has 562 wins on his collegiate coaching resume. Chadwick is looking for his first SLC victory since winning the SLC title with SFA in 2001.
McNeese State enters Thursday's game with a 6-8 record, including a 1-2 record in SLC play while the Islanders are 1-12 and 0-2 in the SLC.
•Junior Brandi Huff registered a career-high 15 points in Monday's home loss to Stephen F. Austin.
• Senior Jessica Jammer recorded her fourth straight double-figure scoring game on Monday with 10 points and led the Islanders' glass with seven rebounds.
•The Islanders out rebounded the Ladyjacks' 22-18 in the second half, including 11-4 on the offensive end. SFA outscored the Islanders just 33-32. The Islanders outscored SFA 26-18 in the paint.
•The Islanders are 1-2 in Burton Coliseum with the lone victory coming in 2007.
•Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's first victory of the season came before the holiday break on Dec. 18 vs. Cornell, 52-49. The team snapped a 10-game losing streak dating back to the last season and marked Coach Chadwick's first victory at the helm.
•Blount leads the team with 10.1 points per game, which ranks 16th in the Southland Conference.
•Coach Chadwick has used five different starting lineups this season. On Monday, he used the starting lineup of Brandi Huff, Ashley Darley, Janae Blount, Jessica Jammer and Verne'qua Taylor for the first time this season.
•Chadwick was named the Southland Coach of the Year in 1997.
SCOUTING THE COWGIRLS
The Cowgirls and Islanders will meet for the seventh time in program history. The series is tied at 3-3.
Last season, the Cowgirls topped the Islanders 66-51 in Lake Charles, La. in the Southland Conference opener. The Islanders dropped its fifth road game of the season at Burton Coliseum. The Cowgirls capitalized at the free-throw line making 19-of-22. Imani Dunn scored a career-high eight points including 2-of-3 from behind the arc in 17 minutes of play in her first career start. Marquesha Anderson-Sparks chipped in eight points and three assists to round out the Islanders scoring.
The Cowgirls have dropped six of its last seven games, including five on the road. McNeese State is coming off a 78-61 home loss to Nicholls on Monday. Prior to that, the Cowgirls sealed a 74-57 road victory at Stephen F. Austin. McNeese State dropped a 64-62 road loss in the Southland Conference opener. The Cowgirls have victories against Texas Southern, Houston, Talladega, Centenary, Ole Miss and Stephen F. Austin.
McNeese State is averaging 67.9 points per game behind Ashlyn Baggett's 17.2 points per game and Caitlyn Baggett's 14.1 points per game. Arianna James leads the boards with 7.1 rebounds per game.
The Islanders were picked to finish eighth in the Southland Conference Coaches' Poll after finishing with a 5-11 conference record last season.
Jessica Jammer has powered the Islanders' offense in the last four games. She is second in scoring with 7.9 per game and has registered five double-figure scoring games this season. She leads the team with 5.7 rebounds per game, which is good for a tie for 17th in the SLC. Jammer is tied with Janae Blount in 15th place in the SLC with 1.6 steals per game.
BE BLUNT ABOUT IT
Freshman guard Janae Blount is leading the Islanders with 10.1 points per game in a team-high 27.6 minutes per game. She is 16th in the SLC in scoring, 15th in three-point field goal percentage and is tied with Jammer in 15th in steals. She has scored in double figures in seven of the 13 games this season and has made starts in eight of the 13. The Washington, D.C. native scored a career-high 21 points vs. Auburn and tied her career-high four three-pointers at the 26th Annual Omni Hotels Classic in Boulder, Colo. to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Ashley Darley has made starts in nine of the 12 Islanders' games. She is third on the team with 6.8 points per game in 17.5 minutes per game. She has also chipped in 20 steals, which is good for a tie for 11th place in the SLC.
Darling recorded a season-high 17 points at UTPA and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds vs. Auburn. She also scored 12 points in both games against Colorado and Auburn in the Omni Hotels Classic. She netted a game-high 14 points vs. UTPA and chipped in four of the Islanders' season-high 18 steals.
Right behind Darley is Alisa Roberts who is who is fourth on the team with 6.7 points per game. The senior tallied a season-high 16 points vs. Texas State.
Last season's Southland Conference assist leader Verne'qua Taylor brought back her old ways vs. Texas State with a season-best eight assists. She followed that performance with six assists vs. Cornell. Taryn Gregory has dished out 23 assists and has started in 11 of the Islanders' 13 games this season. Marquesha Anderson-Sparks leads the team at the charity stripe with a .857 percentage (18-of-21).
The Islanders put together a strong second-half Monday night at the American Bank Center against Stephen F. Austin. After trailing, 33-15 in the first half, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi gained momentum out of the half and out rebounded the Ladyjacks' 22-18, including 11-4 on the offensive end. SFA outscored the Islanders just 33-32 in the second half. The Islanders capitalized on 14 second-chance points and outscored SFA 26-18 in the paint.
Royce Chadwick is the fourth coach in Islanders' history to make his debut on the sidelines. He holds 562 wins on his collegiate coaching resume and seven NCAA Tournament bids. Chadwick is familiar with the Southland Conference after coaching stints at Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. Chadwick was named the Southland Coach of the Year in 1997. He has 28 years of experience coaching women's college basketball and four career wins in the NCAA Tournament.
Roxanne White joins Chadwick on the sidelines as the Islanders' Associate Head Coach. White served on Chadwick's staffs at Marshall and Stephen F. Austin. White was Marshall's recruiting coordinator for all 11 years she was at the school and was the associate head coach for 10 of those seasons. The Stephen F. Austin alumna was an assistant for Chadwick for five years at SFA and also spent a year with Texas A&M.
Darren Brunson also made his Islanders' coaching debut this season as the Islanders Assistant Coach. Brunson comes to the Island University after spending the past two years as the associate head coach and team's recruiting coordinator at Texas Southern. Geoff Grawn is in his 11th season on the Islanders' staff as an assistant coach.
The Islanders will continue Southland Conference play on the road Saturday, Jan. 12, when they travel to Beaumont, Texas to take on Lamar. Tipoff is slated for 4:00 p.m.