CONWAY, Ark. – Taryn Gregory's free throw with 3.7 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team to a 60-58 win over Central Arkansas (13-11) on Thursday night. It marked the second straight victory for the Islanders (3-20), who placed three players in double figures in the win.
Ashley Darley and Gregory had 12 points apiece, while Janae Blount added 10 for the road squad in the victory. The Islanders withstood a tremendous performance from Megan Herbert, who had a season-high 35 points and snared 15 rebounds in a losing effort. Verne'qua Taylor chipped in six assists while Blount had a career-high eight rebounds for the Islanders.
Entering the extra session tied at 54-54, Brandi Huff provided the theatrics. She started the scoring with a jumper to put the Islanders up two, but Tracey Parsons' two free throws knotted the score again. On the ensuing possession, it was Huff again, finishing a beautiful dish from Gregory to make it 58-56. After each team had an empty possession, Herbert connected on a jumper that made it 58-all.
With less than a minute to play, UCA held the ball in the tie game, but Courtney Duever was whistled for a travel and the Islanders had the opportunity for the last shot. Gregory drove and drew the foul, sinking 1-of-2 to put the visitors ahead. On the inbound pass that followed, Huff got the steal and hit 1-of-2 at the line to put A&M – Corpus Christi ahead 60-58 with 1.2 left. Herbert's desperation heave rimmed out and the Islanders came away with the win.
A&M – Corpus Christi opened the game with strong play at both ends, scoring the game's first seven points for a 7-0 lead. Gregory got it started with a three, then followed with a jumper, and an Ashanti Plummer putback gave the visitors a seven-point edge. The teams then went back-and-forth over the next several possessions, with the Sugar Bears trimming the lead to just three after a Julia Mason three. But the Islanders struck again, opening an eight-point lead after a Blount jumper and an Alisa Roberts three made it 17-9.
Meanwhile, it was Herbert who kept UCA in the ballgame. The senior was nearly all the offense for the Sugar Bears in the opening half, scoring 22 of their 27 points before the break. She single-handedly ran off five straight points to make it a three-point game at 22-19, then a later 4-0 run by Herbert cut the lead to 27-25.
But the Islanders closed the half on a 9-2 rally to take a 36-27 lead into the locker room. Roberts hit a jumper and followed it with a three to start the rally, then Darley added a jumper of her own to make it 34-25. After a Herbert jumper with 29 seconds left, Huff fought for an offensive rebound on the next possession, and Huff's shot at the buzzer banked off the glass and in to result in the halftime score.
The Islanders didn't let the break cool them off, as they opened the second stanza with an 8-2 run to make it 44-29. A clutch jumper by Darley and a triple from the left wing by Taylor capped off the rally. From there, the offenses for both teams slowed down, with the Islanders pushing the lead to 16 after a Blount free throw made it 49-33.
The Islanders pushed it to 51-35 when UCA strung together a 7-0 run to get the game back into single digits. Four free throws by Herbert and a three-ball from Parsons made it 51-42 at the 7:42 mark. The Islanders were able to push the advantage back to 11 after a pair of Blount free throws with 6:22 left, but the Sugar Bears tightened down defensively at that point.
UCA embarked on a 10-0 run over the next 5:32 to trim the deficit to a single point. Herbert scored four points during the rally, while Desireé Rogers added three. With 50 seconds left, Jammer hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it 54-52, but Courtney Duever hit a turn-around jumper with 30 seconds remaining to tie the score. Taylor took the ball for the last shot, but her layup in traffic came up short to send the game to the extra session before Huff's theatrics led the Islanders to the win.
The Islanders continue their road trip with a contest at Oral Roberts on Saturday night. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. in Tulsa. Steven King will have the call of the game live on GoIslanders.com. The audio broadcast is free for all listeners.
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