December 18, 2013

Islanders Travel to Houston to Take on Texas Southern

GAME NOTES

TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI AT TEXAS SOUTHERN
Thursday, Dec. 19 • 4 p.m. CT
H&PE Arena • Houston, Texas


THE OPENING TIP

Following an extended break for finals, the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will hit the road for the first time since Nov. 27, as it heads to Houston to take on Texas Southern on Thursday, Dec. 19.

QUICK HITS

• This Islanders will put their undefeated road record on the line, as they have gone 3-0 on the road with wins against Belmont (72-62), Tennessee State (76-74) and Texas State (68-60). This is the first time since the 2004-05 season that the team has had three straight road wins.

• As a team, A&M – Corpus Christi is third in the Southland Conference in three-point percentage, shooting at a 33 percent clip from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 32 of the team's 46 made shots from deep.
• A&M – Corpus Christi has drastically improved its rebounding performance after its opponents pulled down 27 more than the Islanders in the first three games. In the last five, the team has secured 74 more rebounds than its competitors, placing them first in the Southland with a +5.5 overall rebounding margin.

• The Islanders came into the 2013-14 season with the Southland's top-ranked recruiting class, and they have proved their talent, with the top two scores on the team being new faces.

• The win against Texas-Pan American marked the 200th win in program history.

• 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 15 points a game through the first seven this season.

ALL-TIME SERIES

This meeting will mark the sixth matchup between the Islanders and Texas Southern. So far, A&M – Corpus Christi has had the upper hand in the series winning four of the five games.

However, it was the first four outings that the Islanders won, with the Lady Tigers recording the latest win between the two schools with a 63-54 victory in Houston as part of the Houston Baptist Tournament two seasons ago on Nov. 25, 2011. Almost all the games between the squads have been competitive throughout the years with only one game being decided by double digits — an 82-57 Islanders win against Texas Southern on Dec. 1, 2004. If you exclude that game, the average margin of victory falls to 7.5.

SCOUTING REPORT

The Lady Tigers will come into this game looking to snap a five-game losing streak. The season started much better for Texas Southern than its recent trend, as it won three out of their first four games. These victories included two wins against Southland Conference opponents, knocking off in-town rival Houston Baptist (82-70) and McNeese State (71-55). These games were the Lady Tigers only home games, so the Islanders will be looking for the first win by a visitor in H&PE Arena.

However, one Southland school dropped Texas Southern, as it fell to Nicholls State, 79-70. Other losses include games against some tough schools, including Maryland, Kansas and Rice.

The main task for the Islanders to pick up the victory will be figuring out how to shut down Jazzmin Parker, who is second nationally only to Baylor's Odyssey Sims with 26.8 points per game. The lowest point total she has on the year is 15, while she already has four games of 30 or more.

The junior transfer from Blinn JC has been off to a blistering start, shooting .464 from the field and .377 from behind the arc. She also does a good job in getting to the free-throw line, as she has already attempted 49 shots from the charity stripe. However, she has had some problems in holding on to the ball, averaging nearly four turnovers a game.

As a team, Texas Southern shoots the ball well, knocking down 44.4 percent of its shots compared to the Islanders' 32.9 percent. The only problem is the Lady Tigers are allowing their opponent to shoot 44.1 percent, resulting in several losses. They have also been outrebounded by nearly five boards a game.

LAST TIME OUT

The Islanders were able to get back to their winning ways against Texas-Pan American, securing a 68-54 victory against the Broncs — the 200th win in program history. A&M – Corpus Christi trailed by three heading into the second half, but rode a 32-9 run to outscore UTPA 37-20 in the second half for the win.

CRASHING THE BOARDS

Heading into their two games in Nashville, 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 then finished off the roadtrip by outrebounding Texas State by 19, while also snatching up 23 offensive rebounds compared to the Bobcats' seven.

The Islanders once again cleaned up everything on the board last week, snatching up 15 more rebounds than UTSA and then pulled down 11 more than UTPA. A&M – Corpus Christi has now vaulted to first in the conference in rebound margin, overall rebounds and offensive rebounds.

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 averaging 15 points a game. Last season, no Islander had more than two games with more than 20 throughout the entire campaign.

In the game against Tennessee State, Shaw struggled from the field, going just 3-of-12 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.

She then struggled in her next two games, scoring a total of just seven points, making just three of her 20 attempts from the field, missing all seven of her three point attempts. However, she bounced back last time out with 17 points, going 6 for 9 from the field, including two threes, and a perfect 3 for 3 from the free-throw line.

BREAKING BRANDI

Senior Brandi Huff had a breakthrough performance in the matchup against Tennessee State, 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. She then matched her career high in rebounds against UTSA, picking up five on offense and six on defense. Against UTPA she hit double digits in the scoring column for the third time of the season with 12 points.

RAIN MAKER

Freshman Brittany Mbamalu has made a significant impact on the team, especially with her pinpoint shooting ability from three-point range. She has contributed 37 percent of the team's made threes.

In her first two games, she only saw two minutes of action combined. However, she logged 19 minutes of play against Southern Utah, and went 3-of-8 from behind the arc for nine points, earning herself a spot in the starting rotation.

In her five games as a starter, Mbmamlu has had double-digit scoring performances in each outing, with 14 against Belmont and Texas State and 11 against Tennessee State. She added 12 against UTSA and then 10 in the UTPA game. She now ranks ninth in the Southland in three-point percentage (.395) and fifth in three pointers made (17).

WITHIN REACH

In each of its three 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.

A&M – Corpus Christi then saw a four-point lead against UTSA dwindle away over the final 3:22 of regulation before being outscored 6-1 in overtime to fall 55-50.

INCOMING CLASS

During the early signing period, the Islanders received National Letters of Intent from Emmeri Archer (Brooklyn, N.Y./ South Shore HS), Daryon Fields (Spring, Texas/St. Pius High School), Ashley James (Highland Villiage, Texas/Marcus High School) and Jennifer Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA Junior College).

A 5-foot-7 guard, Archer comes to the Islanders as a three-star recruit with a 90 ranking from ESPN. It also ranks her as the 18th player nationally at her position.

Coming from Spring, Texas, Fields will bring some inside presence to the Coastal Bend. The 6-foot-2 post is ranked 42nd in the nation at her position and 309th nationally overall. In her junior year at St. Pius, Fields nearly averaged a double-double with 10 points a game to go along with eight rebounds each time out.

James, a 5-foot-4 point guard from Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas. In her junior year she was named first team all-district and the defensive player of the year in her district. That season, James averaged 10 points, four steals and three assists per game. She has also picked up district MVP and offensive player of the year awards during her high school career.

Ramirez, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., comes to the Island University from ASA Junior College in New York City. Through her first six games for the Avengers, she is averaging 8.7 points and shooting 52.4 percent from the field, to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. She has helped lead her team to a perfect 6-0 start on the young season. Ramirez played her high school basketball at New York City Lab School. In her junior season she averaged 18.8 points, including a 35-point performance in her team's playoff game, as well as 6.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds a game.

FINAL FOUR

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.

TOP-NOTCH TRANSFERS

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.

FRESHMAN FOUR

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.

PRESEASON PREDICTIONS

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.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Islanders will continue their northern expedition on Saturday, as they travel up to Arlington, Texas, to play UT Arlington at 3:30 in the College Park Center.