ISLANDERS (10-9, 3-5) VS.
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team opens up a season-long four-game road trip in Huntsville, Texas, with a 5:30 p.m. matchup with Sam Houston State on Thursday.
• In their last two outings, the Islanders set school records for largest margin of victory with a 29-point win against Southeastern, followed with a 53-point win against New Orleans, which was the biggest win against a Division I opponent and the third largest in a game.
• The Islanders scored 97 points against the Privateers, which tied for the sixth most in school history and the second highest in Southland Conference play. It was the most since they also scored 97 against Cal State-Bakersfield on March 17, 2010.
• It was a difficult start to conference play prior to last week, 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 7-0 when shooting 40 percent or better and 6-0 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 32.9 percent from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 102 of the team's 125 made shots from deep.
• After averaging 21.5 turnovers in nonconference play, the Islanders have done a better job of holding on to the ball with just 14.4 turnovers a game in their eight Southland games for a turnover margin of +3.5.
This will mark the 20th meeting between Sam Houston State and the Islanders. A&M – Corpus Christi holds the overall advantage with a 12-7 record, however, the Bearkats have won the last six meetings after winning just one in the first 13. During this streak, the Islanders have only come within 10 points of SHSU once.
This will be the only meeting between the two schools this season, making it the first time in Southland play that the teams have only played once.
Sam Houston State sits just ahead of the Islanders in the conference standings, with a 4-4 record in Southland play, which puts it in ninth. However, there are five teams ahead of the Bearkats with a 4-3 record in conference.
SHSU enters this matchup after it saw Abilene Christian snap its four-game winning streak. Prior to the win streak, the Bearkats had lost their first three games to teams the Islanders had lost to as well (Northwestern State, SFA, McNeese State).
In the Southland, SHSU ranks toward the middle or bottom of the pack in nearly every category. However, one area the Bearkats excel in is rebounding. They rank second in the league in total rebounds with 41.6 per game, which is 1.5 better than A&M – Corpus Christi, which is ranked fourth. They are just behind the Islanders in rebounding margin with a +2.9, putting them at fourth in the league.
These rebounding stats can mostly be attributed to Angela Beadle, as she is first in the league with 10 caroms a night. However, she is not limited only to rebounding duties, as she has posted 10 double-doubles this season with 16.1 points a game to go along with her rebounds. She also gets it done on the defensive end on a team that sometimes lacks solid defensive play, as she has swatted away a Southland-high 22 blocked shots during conference play.
Another area the Bearkats have performed well in is assists, as they rank fourth in the Southland in that category. Most of the assists have come from Jasmine Johnson, as she ranks fifth in the conference with 3.9 a game. She can also back up her dimes with points, as she is the second-leading scorer on the team with 11.9 on a nightly basis.
LAST TIME OUT
After setting a record for largest margin of victory against a Southland opponent on Thursday with a 29-point win against Southeastern La., the Islanders blew that out of the water with a 97-44 victory against New Orleans on Saturday.
The 97 points tied for the most points scored since March 17, 2010, as the Islanders (10-9, 3-5 in Southland Conference play) posted that same point total against Cal State-Bakersfield. It also marked the second-most points in a Southland game, falling just two points short of that mark, as they scored 99 against Sam Houston State on March 9, 2010.
On the defensive side, this marked the fewest points allowed against A&M – Corpus Christi this season.
The Islanders did not make the first meeting with UNO (0-19, 0-8) a pleasant one for the visitors, outdoing them in nearly every category. This included a 52-23 advantage on the boards and a shooting percentage that was 15 percent better than the Privateers.
Once again, it was a solid team performance for the Islanders, as they had five different players in double figures. Camesha Davis scored the most out of the five, as she set career highs in points and rebounds with 19 and 11 to record her first career double-double.
Brandi Huff and Ashanti Plummer rounded out the five players in double figures, as the two posts went for 14 and 10, respectively. It was the first time in her career that Plummer hit double digits. Both players came off the bench and helped the bench's tally of 47 points.
An interesting aspect of the Islanders' two big wins last week is that they put up huge offensive numbers despite having struggles in their three-point shooting – which has been one of their strengths all year. They went a combined 8-of-36 in the last two outings despite entering those contests with a 34 percent shooting percentage from deep.
However, the team did make 37 of its total 73 shots from the field against Southeastern Louisiana to shoot over 50 percent for the first time against a Southland opponent since it went 52.5 percent from the field against McNeese State on Feb. 20, 2010.
PAINTING THE SCORESHEET RED
A big part of the offensive success last week was the team's ability to work the ball inside. That was accentuated with a huge day in the paint against Southeastern, as the Islanders scored 62 of their 83 points in the paint. Those 62 points alone would have produced more total points than the Islanders mustered in five out of eight of their games played in the Southland.
A FRESH LOOK
An obvious aspect when looking at last week's box scores is the presence of Islanders freshmen in the starting lineup. Coach Chadwick and his staff infused Camesha Davis and Kassie Jones into the lineup for the first time together and the freshmen flourished, as the duo combined for 29 in the Southeastern win, followed by a combined 31 against New Orleans with Davis notching her first double-double as well as career highs with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Jones has started the last four games, while Davis has gotten the first two starts of her career in the last two games. As a team, the Islanders have sent out seven different combinations to start games this season.
A PLUM JOB
Sophomore Ashanti Plummer has had her offensive struggles throughout her Islanders career, but against New Orleans, she had an opportunity to overcome those. The sophomore put up the first double-digit scoring performance of her career, as she posted 10 points, shooting 3-of-5 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line with five rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
The Islanders had a wealth of distribution when it came to their contributions on Saturday. All 12 players on the roster not only played in the game, but all of them also recorded double-digit minutes. Eleven of the 12 grabbed rebounds, 10 of the 12 scored points and nine of the 12 recorded assists in the ballgame.
STOPPING ON DIMES
Over the last two games, the Islanders totaled 48 assists in wins over Southeastern La. and New Orleans. The 27 dimes against the Lady Lions marked the most against a Southland opponent and were just three off the school record of 30 that was set against Huston-Tillotson on Feb. 19, 2001. The two games represented two of the top three assist games on the season, and more impressively saw the team commit just 23 turnovers for a 2.09 assist-to-turnover ratio.
This season the Islanders have already tallied three games with at least 20 assists after not having any in the last three seasons.
ROLLING UP THE POINTS
The 180 points in the last two games were the most since the Islanders scored a combined 181 points on Dec. 9, 2006 and Dec. 16, 2006 with 85 vs. Huston-Tillotson followed by 96 against St. Mary's. The last time A&M – Corpus Christi scored that many against two D-I opponents was during the last two games of 2002-03 season, as it scored a combined 181 against IPFW and Lipscomb.
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 their massive wins against Southeastern and New Orleans though, as they outrebounded the Lady Lions 44-34 and then pulled down an incredible 29 more boards than the Privateers.
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 15.6 points a game, which ranks sixth 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. Then, once again off the bench, Huff scored 14 in the dominant win against New Orleans.
Freshman Brittany Mbamalu has made a significant impact on the team, especially with her pinpoint shooting ability from three-point range. With 54 threes this season, she currently ranks fifth 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.
Despite the big wins against Southeastern and New Orleans, Mbamalu struggled in the two games, going just 3-of-20 from behind the arc. She only scored two points against Southeastern, which was her lowest total since she failed to score in only two minutes of action against Western Illinois in the season opener.
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.
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.
A&M – Corpus Christi will close out its first half of the four-game road trip with a 4 p.m. game at Lamar on Saturday.