THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will wrap up its three-game roadtrip the night before Thanksgiving, as the Islanders will head to San Marcos, Texas, for a Wednesday night matchup with Texas State. The Islanders will look to match their best start to a season since 2009-10, as the team started 4-2 in its first six games.
• The Islanders return from their trip to Nashville, Tenn., with wins against Belmont (72-62) and a comeback win against Tennessee State (76-74).
• As a team, A&M – Corpus Christi is tied for second in the Southland Conference in three-point percentage, shooting at a .376 clip from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 24 of the teams 35 made shots from deep.
• The Emerald Beach Islanders Classic marked the first time since 2010-11 that the Islanders hosted a tournament at home. A win against Western Illinois led the Islanders to an appearance in the championship game of the tournament.
• The Islanders come into the 2013-14 season with the Southland's top-ranked recruiting class.
• The team features 10 newcomers this season after losing three starters and eight total letterwinners.
• After struggling to find offense last year, Marshall transfer Jasmine Shaw has become the main offensive threat for the Islanders. Last season no Islander had more than two 20-point games. Shaw already has three and is averaging nearly 20 a night with 19.7 points a game.
This will be the 15th meeting between the Bobcats and the Islanders with Texas State leading the series 10-4. The Bobcats have especially had the upper hand as of late, winning the last five games. Last season, the Islanders dropped a home match to the Bobcats, falling 69-51.
The last time the Islanders beat Texas State was a 72-59 win on Feb. 10, 2009. The win marked the third-straight win of the series for A&M – Corpus Christi before the Bobcats started their most recent run.
Most of the matchups came in Southland Conference play, with 12 of the games played in conference. The only two times the squads met up in nonconference play was on Dec. 21, 2003, before the Islanders joined the Southland and last season, as Texas State left to join the Sun Belt.
The Bobcats have struggled as of late, dropping their last three outings. However, they've had some tough opponents, taking on two Big 12 schools in the form of Texas and TCU. Last time out, Texas State fell to Hampton 72-63.
The Bobcats have struggled offensively, knocking down only 29 percent of its shots en route to scoring just 57 points a game. The team has done a good job of making its opponents turn the ball over 80 times, opposed to just 65 turnovers itself. This will be a key factor in Wednesday's game, as the Islanders have coughed the ball up 99 times this season.
LAST TIME OUT
The Islanders return to Texas after a quick trip to Music City. The team was able to pick up two wins in Nashville, Tenn., picking up wins against Belmont (Nov. 19) and Tennessee State (Nov. 21).
In its game against Belmont, A&M Corpus – Christi went on a run late in the first half and never looked back. The Islanders led by six or more the entire 20 minutes of play. Hot shooting from behind the arc was a vital part of the team's success against the Bruins, knocking down 11 threes, which was just one shy of tying a record for most threes made in a game.
Unlike the game against Belmont, the Islanders found themselves behind for most of the game against Tennessee State. With 1:14 left in the half, A&M – Corpus Christi trailed by 12 before Camesha Davis went on a 6-0 run by herself to cut the deficit to six. The Islanders went back ahead late, but would relinquish the lead, finding themselves down by one with just seconds left.
Following a missed three-point attempt by Mbamalu, Shaw would scoop up the offensive board and drain a shot with five seconds left, even while getting fouled. She would sink the free throw to put the Islanders up two before a heave from the Lady Tigers would not fall, securing the win for A&M – Corpus Christi.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Heading into their last two games, the Islanders had been outrebounded by 27 total boards. However, A&M – Corpus Christi dominated the rebounding stats in its trip to the Volunteer State, outrebounding both Belmont and Tennessee State by 13.
The Islanders especially cleaned everything off the glass in the second half against the Lady Tigers. A&M – Corpus Christi went into the half getting outrebounded by seven, before it notched 20 more boards than its opponent in the final 20 minutes.
DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SHAW?
Jasmine Shaw, a senior transfer from Marshall, has tallied three games of 20 or more points this season and is almost averaging 20 points a game with a 19.7 average. Last season, no Islander had more than two games with more than 20 throughout the entire 2012-13 campaign. She currently ranks third in the Southland in scoring and first in the conference in free-throw percentage at 90 percent.
In her last game against Tennessee State, she struggled from the field, going just 3 for 12 from the field and 1 of 6 from downtown. However, she still made a huge impact on the team, setting a career high in rebounds with 13 — seven offensively — and in assists with nine. She also knocked down seven of her nine free throws to give her 14 points on the night, meaning she came just one assist short of picking up the first triple-double in Islanders' history. For good measure in that game she also hit the game-winning jumper with five seconds left and recorded four steals in the matchup.
Senior Brandi Huff had a breakthrough performance her last time out, setting a career high in rebounds while matching her top scoring outing. The Rockport-Fulton native notched her first career double-double, pulling down 11 boards to go along with a team high 15 points.
Shaw and senior Ashley Darley were named to the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic All-Tournament Team. Darley was also a major cog in the offense throughout the week, picking up a double-double against Western Illinois with 13 points and 11 rebounds to help the Islanders advance to the championship game.
In both of its two loses A&M – Corpus Christi has come up just short, losing by an average of just five points. In its loss against Fairfield in the championship game of the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic, the Islanders were just one play away from tying the game up. However, down three, they were not able to get a three-pointer off before the buzzer sounded. Then in the matchup with Southern Utah, the Islanders trailed by just four late in the game before the Thunderbirds pushed the lead back to seven before the final horn sounded.
With the departure of eight players from last year's squad, the Islanders only have four returners for the 2013-14 season made up of three seniors and one sophomore. The leading scorer out of the bunch was Ashley Darley, who was second on the team in points scored with 7.9 a game. Darley also ranked second on the team in rebounds per game and steals per game last year.
Taryn Gregory also returns for her final season after starting in 20 games last year. She comes into the year ranking fourth in career free-throw percentage with a .764 overall mark her first three years. Brandi Huff rounds out the trio of seniors after ranking third on the team in rebounds.
The lone sophomore on A&M – Corpus Christi's roster is Ashanti Plummer. The Manhattan, N.Y., native enters play this year after making an impact on the team her freshman year, ranking second on the team in games started with 22 and first in the team in blocks and 11th in the Southland in the same category.
The Islanders enter this season with the top-ranked recruiting class in the Southland after signing 10 newcomers. However, five of them join the Island University with collegiate experience – three at the Division I level.
Two of the transfers have played for coach Royce Chadwick, as Shay Weaver and Jasmine Shaw come to the Island University after playing for him at Marshall. Shaw will look to make an immediate impact, while Weaver will sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Alissa Campanero will look to get the ball in the hands of shooters as she dished out 4.9 assists per game last season with Odessa College and has experience in Division I after playing her freshman season at Hawaii.
Adebayo played at Eastern Oklahoma State Community College and averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game, while securing 12 double-doubles, picking up First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Third Team NJCAA All-American honors.
Lexy Harris joins the Islanders after averaging a double-double with Angelina Community College, averaging 12.8 points per game and 10.9 rebounds to go along with 2.1 blocks per game.
Rounding off the highly touted recruiting class are five freshmen, with all but one of those coming from Texas. Ranked No. 63 in the ESPN Girls Recruiting National Rankings was Camesha Davis who averaged 16 points and 8.5 rebounds at Desoto High School. Another freshman that comes to the Coastal Bend almost averaging a double-double is Doshi Davis who averaged 11 points, 8.3 rebounds as a senior at Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas.
A freshman that managed to average a double-double her senior season of high school was Brittany Mbamalu, pulling down 10.1 rebounds a game to go along with 20.8 points. She was also named first team all-district her junior and senior seasons. Looking to help out a team that averaged less than 50 points a game last season is Kassie Jones, who was ranked 10th in Texas in scoring her senior year, averaging 24 points a game.
The lone freshman from outside of Texas is Rau Jau' Terry who comes to A&M – Corpus Christi from Louisville, Ky., and was rated one of the top 250 players in the country by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
After finishing last season 3-15, the Islanders have been picked by the Southland coaches to finish ninth in the conference, while the SID Poll has A&M – Corpus Christi occupying the 10th spot.
The Islanders will come back home after concluding their roadtrip, as they will play their first games in the American Bank Center. They will take on UTSA on Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. before playing their final game before a break for finals, as they will match up against Texas – Pan American on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m.