ISLANDERS (9-9, 2-5) VS.
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will play host to Southland Conference newcomer New Orleans, as the two sides will tip off at 4 p.m. in the American Bank Center.
• The Islanders came back in a big way with a 29-point win against Southeastern La. — their largest margin of victory this year and biggest Southland win ever.
• It was a difficult start to conference play prior to that, as the Islanders dropped five out of their first six meetings. However, only one of those six teams was not picked in the Southland preseason polls to finish in the top six.
• The magic numbers for the team this season have been 40 and 70. The Islanders are 6-0 when shooting 40 percent or better and 5-0 when scoring at least 70 points. On the flipside, when their opponents shoot better than 40 percent, the Islanders are 3-8 and are 1-3 when giving up 70 or more.
• As a team, A&M – Corpus Christi is second in the Southland in three-point percentage, shooting 33.4 percent from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 97 of the team's 120 made shots from deep. In the last nine games, the duo has accounted for 65 of the team's 74 threes.
• After averaging 21.5 turnovers in nonconference play, the Islanders have done a better job of holding on to the ball with just 15.6 turnovers a game in their seven Southland games for a turnover margin of +3.0.
• After struggling to find offense last year, senior transfer Jasmine Shaw has become a main offensive threat for the Islanders. Last season, no Islander had more than two 20-point games. Shaw already has five and leads the team with 16.1 points per game.
This will be the first time the two schools have met, as this is the inaugural season in the Southland Conference for New Orleans.
It has been a tough season so far for New Orleans, as it has lost its first 18 games of the season. The Privateers have not even been competitive in most of their games, with their closest loss coming by three, followed by a 12-point loss to Southland foe Houston Baptist. The rest of their 16 losses have been by at least 22, leading to a -34.1 scoring margin.
Their rebounding and turnover margins haven't much better either, as those stats sit at -11.3 and -8.2, respectively. As a team, UNO has shot just 30.1 percent from the field and has fared even worse from deep, making just 23.3 percent of its shots from three-point land. The only two categories the Privateers rank in the top 10 in the conference are blocked shots (2.3, 9th) and offensive rebounds (12.1, 10th).
UNO does not have any scorers averaging in double figures this season. Its leading scorer Octavia Wilson is almost there, putting up 9.2 points per game. She is one of just two three-point threats for her team with 27 triples this season.
LAST TIME OUT
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team secured an impressive 83-54 victory against Southeastern Louisiana in the Dugan Wellness Center on Thursday.
The 29-point win was the biggest margin of victory for the Islanders (9-9, 2-5 in Southland Conference play) so far this season. For only the second time this year A&M – Corpus Christi shot above 50 percent, going 37-of-73 from the field.
The high field goal percentage was mostly due to the fact that the Islanders ran the court at a high level against the Lady Lions (4-14, 3-3) and recorded 26 fast break points, 25 points off of turnovers and 62 points in the paint.
Several Islanders contributed to this team win, as four different players notched double-digit scoring performances on the night, including 34 bench points.
Brandi Huff, who came off the bench, was the leading scorer with 18 points, shooting 8-of-13 from the field along with six rebounds.
Freshman Kassie Jones, who has gotten the nod at starting point guard the last three games, had the best night of her young career with 16 points along with four assists and three steals.
Fellow freshman Camesha Davis earned the first start of her career and played at a high level to score her most points in a game with 13 to go along with three huge blocks.
The final Islander to score more than 10 was Jasmine Shaw, as the team's leading scorer not only scored 12 points, but also had eight rebounds, six assists and three steals to go along with those points.
Despite the high field goal percentage, the Islanders, who average nearly 21 points a game from behind the arc, only went 3-of-15 from downtown. However, after opponents knocked down seemingly triple after triple against the Islanders to start Southland play, Southeastern only went 1-of-14 from deep.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Heading into their two games in Nashville in November, 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 boards when they returned home, snatching up 15 more rebounds than UTSA, and then pulled down 11 more than UTPA.
After getting outrebounded for the first time in five games at Texas Southern, the Islanders won the rebound battle against UTA despite losing the game. They then backed it up with 17 more boards than Huston-Tillotson.
However, as of late, the Islanders have had similar rebounding results as the first games of the season. Through the first six games in Southland Conference play, the rebounding difference has led to several of the Islanders' losses, as they were outrebounded by an average margin of 6.2, dropping them from first to fourth in that category.
Their work on the boards helped lead the Islanders to the massive win against Southeastern though, as they outrebounded the Lady Lions 44-34.
YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SHAW?
Jasmine Shaw, a senior transfer from Marshall, has tallied five games of 20 or more points this season and is averaging 16.1 points a game, which ranks fifth in the Southland. Last season, no Islander had more than two games exceeding 20 points 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 against UTPA with 17 points, going 6-for-9 from the field, including two threes.
Shaw then followed up that performance with an even bigger one, scoring a career-high 28 points against Texas Southern, including seven threes, which tied a school record. Shaw kept rolling heading into the Christmas break, knocking down another five threes and a total of 19 points at UTA. She then added 16 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists against Huston-Tillotson.
In her first two Southland games, Shaw racked up 13 points against the Sugar Bears, followed by 19 points, five rebounds and three assists against Oral Roberts. Then, in her third game in the conference, she exploded for a career-high 29 points, while once again tying the school record with seven threes. She also crashed the boards for 10 rebounds to pick up her second double-double of the season. She then added 19 more against SFA to raise her to the third leading scorer in the conference.
She struggled against McNeese, though, as the Cowgirls held Shaw to just 2-of-6 from the field with no threes and just four points — her second lowest total of the season. Then, despite scoring 11 at Nicholls, she struggled from deep once again, making just one of her seven three-point attempts.
It was an all-around solid performance from the senior against Southeastern, as she scored 12 points to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and a block.
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 figures in the scoring column for the third time of the season with 12 points. Then at Texas Southern, Huff had seven points and six rebounds and tied career-highs in blocks (2) and steals (2).
Huff had arguably the biggest game of her tenure with a career-high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds against Huston-Tillotson for her second double-double of the season. She went 7-of-9 from the field and made all seven of her shots from the charity stripe. Huff also blocked two shots and dished out two assists.
After struggling in the Southland opener, Huff bounced back to score nine points against Oral Roberts. She also set career-highs in the game with three steals and four blocks. Then, against Northwestern State she helped crash the boards with seven rebounds, as well as going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field for six points. She followed that up with nine points against SFA.
Despite coming off the bench against Southeastern, Huff had one of her biggest games in conference, going 8-of-13 from the field for 18 points to go along with six rebounds in a big win.
Freshman Brittany Mbamalu has made a significant impact on the team, especially with her pinpoint shooting ability from three-point range. With 51 threes this season, she currently ranks seventh in Islanders' history for a single season.
In her first two games, she only saw two minutes of action combined. However, she logged 19 minutes of play against Southern Utah, and hit three threes for nine points, earning herself a spot in the starting rotation.
In her first seven games as a starter, Mbmamlu hit double figures in each outing. She now ranks first in the Southland in three pointers made (2.8 per game, 51 total). Mbamalu also shattered a school record with 18 three-point attempts in the game at UTA with the previous high being 13 — which she had tied in the game at Texas Southern.
Her streak of double figure performances was brought to a halt against Huston-Tillotson where she only had nine points. However, this was only recorded 16 minutes of play after she suffered an injury in the first half. She then got back in double figures with 10 points against UCA in her first conference game.
Mbamalu posted her ninth and 10th games in double digits with four three pointers against the Lady Demons for 12 points before knocking down five from deep for a game-high 15 points at McNeese.
She had the biggest game of her young career against Nicholls with 23 points to go along with seven threes, tying a school record. Amazingly, 20 of those points came in the first half, as well as six of the threes before the Colonels did a better job guarding her in the final 20 minutes of play.
In each of its first three losses, A&M – Corpus Christi came 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. 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 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. The Islanders were downed by double-digits for the first time this season in a 75-64 defeat by UTA before losing a four-point game to UCA. It was another close loss in the next two matchups, as the Islanders fell to Northwestern State by six and to SFA by seven to keep their average margin of defeat at six at that time.
However, McNeese played a very solid game against the Islanders en route to a 28-point victory, which was the biggest of the season after the first seven losses came by a combined total of 43 points.
It was another tough loss against Nicholls, though, as a heave by the Colonels with 38 seconds left banked off the glass and in to put them up three on the way to a 67-60 win.
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 Village, 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. 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.
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 a year ago.
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 four freshmen. No. 63 in the ESPN Girls Recruiting National Rankings is 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 and 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.
After finishing last season 3-15 in conference play, 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.
Next, A&M – Corpus Christi will face several tough road games, as it plays a season-high four consecutive games away from home. During that stretch the Islanders will take on Sam Houston State (Jan. 30), Lamar (Feb.1), Incarnate Word (Feb. 6) and Abilene Christian (Feb. 8).