TULSA, Okla. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team picked up its first Southland Conference win of the season with a thrilling 58-53 victory against Oral Roberts on Saturday.
After it took 11 games last season for the Islanders to secure their first win in conference play, it only took two this season for A&M – Corpus Christi to pick up a Southland victory.
With a dominating performance down the stretch, Jasmine Shaw finished with 19 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. She was the only Islander in double digits, as Alissa Campanero and Brandi Huff both finished with nine.
Camesha Davis had a strong game coming off the bench, finishing with just six points, but cleaned up on the glass for a career-high eight rebounds.
The Islanders turned up the heat defensively in the second half, forcing 11 turnovers and holding ORU to just 7-of-21 from the field after it shot 40 percent in the first half. A&M – Corpus Christi's defense also kept Dorottya Balla — who scored 30 in ORU's conference opener — from scoring in the second half after she notched 11 points in the first 20 minutes of play.
It was a slow start to the game for the Islanders, as they turned the ball over and saw the Golden Eagles jump out to a 4-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
Davis got the team energized, taking a charge in the paint to cause an ORU turnover. Shaw then came down and hit a runner to cut the deficit in half.
However, a three and two layups for ORU gave the home squad a 7-0 run to jump out to an early 11-2 lead with 15:40 left to play.
The Islanders responded, as Campanero came out of the media timeout and drilled a three to cut the lead to five. The teams then traded buckets to make it a 13-7 game with 12:46 to go in the half.
Kassie Jones knocked down a pair of free throws before dishing a pass to Davis for a layup with just less than 12 minutes into the game to pull the Islanders within two for the first time since the first minute of the game.
The Golden Eagles jumped out to 19-14 lead with two buckets following a Shaw three pointer. Brittany Mbamalu had the response, drilling her first three of the game to cut the lead back to two with nine minutes remaining in the first.
ORU came right back to go on a 9-2 run, though, to open up a 28-19 lead with 5:37 left to play in the half.
However, the Islanders had an answer for their opponent's run, as Huff finished strong in the paint and Mbamalu followed with a trey to cut the lead down to four.
After the Golden Eagles hit one of two from the line, Lexy Harris hit three free throws of her own to finish off an 8-1 run to close out the half and make it a 29-27 game heading into the half.
It did not take long for the Islanders to keep the momentum rolling, as Shaw hit a jumper to start the half and tie the game for the first time.
Then, A&M – Corpus Christi came right back with Shaw missing a three, getting her own rebound, dumping it off to Huff completed a three-point play to put the Islanders up for the first time, 32-29.
However, ORU came right back to hit a pair of free throws and a jumper to get back on top by one with 17:18 left in the matchup. The Golden Eagles then extended their lead to 40-36 with less than 13 minutes to play.
It was then that the Islanders started rolling. Huff stole the ball on the defensive end and kicked it out to Shaw, who drove the lane and tossed it back out to Campanero for a three to pull the visitors within one.
The next time down the court it was Huff who scooped up an offensive board and threw it out to Campanero, as she converted once again from downtown to jump back on top. With 10:03 left to play the Islanders found themselves up 42-40.
A&M – Corpus Christi went on to score the next six points to cap off a 12-0 run to get out to its largest lead of the night, 48-40.
ORU cut the deficit in half, though, with a jumper followed by a pair of free throws to pull the Golden Eagles within four with less than five minutes on the clock.
Shaw came right back with an answer, converting on a runner. However, ORU came right back to can a three to make it a one-possession game.
Senior leader Taryn Gregory came up big on the next possession, somehow converting on a jumper in the paint with the shot clock expiring to put the Islanders up 52-47 with 3:32 left on the clock.
The Golden Eagles still had plenty of fight left in them, trotting right back down the court and hitting another contested three to pull within two. Shaw had that look in her eyes, though, getting the ball and driving right into the paint to hit another runner and push the lead up to four with 1:53 left.
Incredibly, ORU responded with its third three in a row to pull within one, but Shaw would not let her team be denied the win, coming up with yet another answer to put the Islanders back up 56-53 with just over a minute to go.
A&M – Corpus Christi forced a turnover on ORU's offensive possession, but turned the ball over on its subsequent possession as well, giving the Golden Eagles a chance to tie it with 17 seconds left to play.
However, the Islanders forced a contested shot that would not fall, and Shaw sank a pair of free throws to secure the strong win for A&M – Corpus Christi.
The Islanders will now head back to the Coastal Bend for their home Southland opener against Northwestern State on Thursday, Jan. 9, with tip scheduled for 5 p.m.
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