January 7, 2012

Islanders Fall to McNeese State in Southland Conference Opener, 66-51

LAKE CHARLES, La. – Zoe Vega-Vega powered the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team (4-10, 0-1) with her first double-double of the season, but the Islanders dropped their fifth road game of the season, falling 66-51, to McNeese State (11-4, 1-0) in the Southland Conference opener. The Cowgirls capitalized at the free-throw line making 19-of-22, Saturday afternoon at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles, La.

Vega-Vega paced the Islanders with a season-high 11 points and tied a career-high 10 rebounds in her first start of the season. Imani Dunn scored a career-high eight points including 2-of-3 from behind the arc in 17 minutes of play in her first career start. Marquesha Anderson-Sparks chipped in eight points and three assists to round out the Islanders scoring.

McNeese State, the defending Southland Conference champions were powered by two players in double-digit scoring. Ashlyn Baggett tied her season-high with 24 points, including 3-of-7 from behind the arc and 7-of-8 from behind the charity stripe, while Kendra Wells added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Cowgirls.

All the Islanders on the active roster saw playing time and shot 35.3 percent from the field (18-51) to the Cowgirls 31.7 percent (20-63). The Islanders also led from behind the arc, shooting 35.7 percent (5-14) to the Cowgirls 29.2 percent (7-24). The Cowgirls shot 86.4 percent (19-22) to the Islanders 55.6 percent (10-18) from the charity stripe.

The Cowgirls edged the Islanders 42-39 on the boards and capitalized on 23 points off the Islanders 17 turnovers.  The Cowgirls also scored 15 second chance points and 15 in the paint.

The Islanders took the early 2-0 lead on a jumper by Dunn, but the Cowgirls responded and never trailed again. McNeese State scored three points before Vega-Vega hit her first of seven points of the first half to pull the Islanders within one. The Cowgirls extended the lead on a 12-0 run capped by back-to-back three-pointers to pad the lead to 11. During the run four different Cowgirls scored. Junior Jessica Jammer stopped the run with a jumper with 12 minutes left.

Vega-Vega hit her first of three free throws in the first half and Anderson-Sparks free throw cut the Cowgirls lead to eight under the eight-minute mark. Alisa Roberts triggered the Islanders only three of the half to bring the Islanders within 11, but Ashlyn Baggert answered with her own three and made two free throws to pad the lead to 16.  

Myeisha Myles hit her first jumper of the game just under the one-minute mark and Jammer's jumper as time expired in the first half, gave the Cowgirls a 12 point-cushion at the half. The Cowgirls took a 33-21 lead into the locker room, behind Ashlyn Bagett's 15 points and Wells' eight points and seven boards. Vega-Vega led the Islanders with seven points and seven boards. Jammer added four points and Myles grabbed six boards in the first half. The Cowgirls edged the Islanders 24-23 on the boards and scored eight points off the Islanders 10 rebounds.

The Cowgirls continued to lead in the second half. Verne'qua Taylor, who was limited in the first half with foul trouble, scored her first trey of the game to pull the Islanders within 10 at the 12:30 mark. Wells responded with a three of her own before Taylor and Jammer hit jumpers to cut the lead to nine with 10:32 to play. The Cowgirls answered by taking their biggest lead of the game, 56-39, on an 8-0 run that started with back-to-back three-pointers by the Baggett twins and Wells added a jumper before Dunn hit her second three of the game under the eight minute-mark.

The Islanders cut the lead to 13 on a Vega-Vega turnaround with four minutes left to play. Anderson-Sparks added a three to cut the lead to 63-49, but Caitlyn Baggett answered with a layup and-one with 1:30 remaining. Anderson-Sparks sealed two free throws in the final seconds to finish out the scoring for the Islanders.

Dunn, Vega-Vega, Anderson-Sparks, Taylor and Myles got the starting nods for the Islanders.

The Islanders will return home to host UTSA on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at the American Bank Center. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.