TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-10) AT SAM HOUSTON STATE (4-8)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team will open Southland Conference play when they travel to Huntsville, Texas to take on Sam Houston State on Friday, Jan. 4. The Islanders are coming off a tough non-conference schedule and will ring in the New Year with conference play. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off a 69-38 road loss to Big 12 opponent TCU on Dec. 29.
Friday's game will mark the 17th meeting between the two teams. The Bearkats hold the all-time 11-5 series advantage. Last season, Sam Houston State swept the series, 75-54 in Huntsville and 65-56 in Corpus Christi.
Head Coach Royce Chadwick is in his first year as the Islanders' Head Coach. Chadwick, who spent the previous 11 years at the helm of the Marshall University program, has 562 wins on his collegiate coaching resume.
Sam Houston State enters Friday's game with a 4-8 record, including a 1-1 record at home. The Bearkats are coming off a 75-58 road victory over Houston Baptist on Jan. 2 and will return home after a string of six road games. Friday's game will also mark the Bearkats conference opener.
•Jessica Jammer led the team for the second straight game with 14 points and seven rebounds at TCU on Dec. 29. Prior to that, she tallied a season-high 16 points in the Islanders' first victory of the season vs. Cornell to earn Southland Conference play of the Week honors.
•The Islanders tallied 15 steals at TCU three shy of tying their season-high of 18.
• Texas A&M - Corpus Christi also led the paint, tallying 24 of its 38 points in the paint. The Islanders also committed fewer turnovers than the Horned Frogs.
•The Islanders' first victory of the season came before the holiday break on Dec. 18 vs. Cornell, 52-49. The team snapped a 10-game losing streak dating back to the last season and marked Coach Chadwick's first victory at the helm.
•Freshman Janae Blount has scored in double figures in seven of the Islanders' 11 games this season.
•Blount leads the team with 10.6 points per game, which ranks 14th in the Southland Conference.
•The Islanders are 4-2 in Southland Conference openers, including a 2-1 record when they open conference play on the road.
•Coach Chadwick has used four different starting lineups this season. At TCU, he used the starting lineup of Morgan Schwartz, Alisa Roberts, Jessica Jammer, Verne'qua Taylor and Taryn Gregory for the second time this season.
SCOUTING THE BEARKATS
The Bearkats and Islanders will meet for the 17th time in program history. Sam Houston State has the 11-5 advantage in series history.
Last season, the Bearkats topped the Islanders 65-56 in Corpus Christi at the Dugan Wellness Center. The Islanders cut the lead to five with 36.8 seconds left, but fell to the Bearkats in the first meeting. Alisa Roberts tallied a career-high 18 points and Verne'qua Taylor added 11 points. Sam Houston State had three players in double-figure scoring, led by Britni Martin's 22 points. In Huntsville, the Islanders led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but the Bearkats came clawing back to shoot 62 percent in the second half including 85.7 percent from behind the arc to win 75-54. Taylor tallied nine points and four assists while Brandi Huff chipped in eight points and Roberts added seven points, two assists, three steals and led the team on the glass with eight rebounds.
Sam Houston State has dropped five of its last seven games, including four on the road. The Bearkats are returning home after a six-game road swing and are coming off a 75-58 victory over Houston Baptist on Wednesday night. The Bearkats have victories against Grambling State, A&M-Commerce, Houston Baptist and an overtime victory over Albany.
Sam Houston State is averaging 62.9 points per game behind preseason first-team all-conference guard Britni Martin. She leads the Bearkats with 16.7 points per game and Sequeena Thomas (preseason first-team all-conference forward) is second on the team with 13.7 points per game. Thomas leads the boards with 12.2 rebounds per game.
The Islanders were picked to finish eighth in the Southland Conference Coaches' Poll after finishing with a 5-11 conference record last season.
BE BLUNT ABOUT IT
Freshman guard Janae Blount is leading the Islanders with 10.6 points per game in a team-high 27.0 minutes per game. She is 14th in the SLC in scoring, third in three-point field goals made and is tied for 10th in steals. She has scored in double figures in seven of the 11 games this season and has made starts in seven of the 11. The Washington, D.C. native scored a career-high 21 points vs. Auburn and tied her career-high four three-pointers.
Joining Blount is freshman post Ashanti Plummer, who tallied a career-high nine points vs. Texas State. She also led the newcomers with five rebounds in the only exhibition of the season. Morgan Schwartz is a transfer from Midland CC where she played two seasons under head coach Ron Jones. This season she posted eight points at UTPA on 4-of-7 shooting and tied a season-high five rebounds at Texas.
Ashley Darley has made starts in eight of the 11 Islanders' games. She is third on the team with 7.2 points per game in 17.9 minutes per game. She has also chipped in 18 steals, which is good for a tie for 13th place in the SLC.
Darling recorded a season-high 17 points at UTPA and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds vs. Auburn. She also scored 12 points in both games against Colorado and Auburn in the Omni Hotels Classic. She netted a game-high 14 points vs. UTPA and chipped in four of the Islanders' season-high 18 steals.
Joining Darley is senior Jessica Jammer who is second in scoring with 7.4 per game. She leads the team with 5.9 rebounds per game, which is good for a tie for 15th in the SLC. Jammer along with Blount leads the team with 20 steals and is tied for 10th in the Southland with 1.8 per game.
Right behind Darley is Alisa Roberts who is who is fourth on the team with 6.6 points per game. The senior tallied a season-high 16 points vs. Texas State.
Last season's Southland Conference assist leader Verne'qua Taylor brought back her old ways vs. Texas State with a season-best eight assists. She followed that performance with six assists vs. Cornell. She is 15th in the SLC with 2.4 assists per game. Taryn Gregory has dished out 21 assists and has started in 10 of the Islanders' 11 games this season. Marquesha Anderson-Sparks leads the team at the charity stripe with a .857 percentage (18-of-21).
Royce Chadwick is the fourth coach in Islanders' history to make his debut on the sidelines. He holds 562 wins on his collegiate coaching resume and seven NCAA Tournament bids. Chadwick is familiar with the Southland Conference after coaching stints at Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. Chadwick was named the Southland Coach of the Year in 1997. He has 28 years of experience coaching women's college basketball and four career wins in the NCAA Tournament.
Roxanne White joins Chadwick on the sidelines as the Islanders' Associate Head Coach. White served on Chadwick's staffs at Marshall and Stephen F. Austin. White was Marshall's recruiting coordinator for all 11 years she was at the school and was the associate head coach for 10 of those seasons. The Stephen F. Austin alumna was an assistant for Chadwick for five years at SFA and also spent a year with Texas A&M.
Darren Brunson also made his Islanders' coaching debut this season as the Islanders Assistant Coach. Brunson comes to the Island University after spending the past two years as the associate head coach and team's recruiting coordinator at Texas Southern. Geoff Grawn is in his 11th season on the Islanders' staff as an assistant coach.
The Islanders will continue Southland play on Monday, Jan. 7, when they host Stephen F. Austin at the American Bank Center. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.