ORAL ROBERTS (6-8, 3-1 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-14, 0-4 SLC)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team returns home to the American Bank Center to host first-year Southland Conference member Oral Roberts on Thursday, Jan. 17. The Islanders have played its last four out of five games on the road and are looking for its first conference victory of the season. Oral Roberts has won its last two conference games while Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off a 44-37 road loss to Lamar on Saturday, Jan. 12.
Thursday's game will mark the third meeting between the two teams. The series is tied at one game apiece. The last time the Golden Eagles came to Corpus Christi the Islanders sealed a 60-58 victory on December 11, 1999.
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. Chadwick is looking for his first SLC victory since winning the SLC title with SFA in 2001.
Oral Roberts enters Thursday's game with a 6-8 record, including a 3-1 record in SLC play while the Islanders are 1-14 and 0-4 in the SLC.
• Senior Jessica Jammer paced the Islanders with nine points and tied a team-high seven rebounds on Thursday at McNeese State. Prior to that, she registered four straight double-figure scoring games.
•The Islanders led at the half for just the fourth time this season on Saturday at Lamar, but the Lady Cardinals' second-half play edged the Islanders.
•Ashley Darley powered the Islanders' offense with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field at Lamar. Trish Amboree and Brandi Huff each tallied six points apiece to lead the Islanders' bench while Imani Dunn chipped in three.
•Texas A&M - Corpus Christi's 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.
•Blount leads the team with 9.6 points per game, which ranks 17th in the Southland Conference.
•Coach Chadwick has used six different starting lineups this season. On Saturday, he used the starting lineup of Ashley Darley, Marquesha Anderson-Sparks, Jessica Jammer, Ashanti Plummer and Verne'qua Taylor for the first time this season.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN EAGLES
The Golden Eagles and Islanders will meet for just the third time in program history and first in Southland Conference play. The all-time series is split at one game apiece.
The last time the two teams met up was on December 7, 2000 in Tulsa, Okla. and the Golden Eagles sealed a 74-61 victory. Prior to that, the Islanders edged out a 60-58 victory on December 11, 1999 in Corpus Christi.
Oral Roberts has won three of its last eight games. The Golden Eagles are coming off 63-56 home victory to Stephen F. Austin on Saturday. Prior to that, the team sealed a 66-55 home victory to Northwestern State. Oral Roberts has Southland Conference victories against Northwestern State, Stephen F. Austin and Southeastern La. The Golden Eagles also have victories against Evangel, UT Arlington and Tulsa.
Oral Roberts is averaging 67.2 points per game behind conference scoring leader Kevi Luper's 19.5 points per game and Jaci Bigham's 9.8 points per game. Savanna Buck leads the boards with 5.4 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.
Jessica Jammer has powered the Islanders' offense in conference play. She is second in scoring with 7.7 per game and has registered five double-figure scoring games this season. She leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game, which is good for 12th place in the SLC.
BE BLUNT ABOUT IT
Freshman guard Janae Blount is leading the Islanders with 9.6 points per game which is good for 17th in the SLC in scoring. She has scored in double figures in seven of the 15 games this season and has made starts in nine of the 15. The Washington, D.C. native scored a career-high 21 points vs. Auburn and tied her career-high four three-pointers at the 26th Annual Omni Hotels Classic in Boulder, Colo. to earn a spot on the All-Tournament team.
Ashley Darley has made starts in 11 of the 14 Islanders' games. She is third on the team with 7.1 points per game in 17.8 minutes per game. She has also chipped in a team-high 25 steals, which is good for fifth 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. She led the team with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting at Lamar.
Right behind Darley is Alisa Roberts who is fourth on the team with 5.8 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 averaging 2.3 assists per game which is good for 13th place in the SLC. Taryn Gregory has dished out 24 assists and has started in 11 of the Islanders' 15 games this season. Marquesha Anderson-Sparks is second on the team at the charity stripe with a .792 percentage (19-of-24). The junior made her first season start Saturday at Lamar.
LEADING AT THE HALF
The Islanders took a 17-15 lead at the half at Lamar on Saturday behind Ashley Darley's eight points. It was the fourth time this season the Islanders headed into the locker room ahead. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 1-3 when leading at the half.
The Islanders' bench outscored Lamar's bench 15-4. Trish Amboree and Brandi Huff each tallied six points apiece to lead the bench while Imani Dunn chipped in three.
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. Grawn and the Islanders made an appearance at the WNIT during the 2004-05 season. The team won in the first round and finished with a season-best 23-7 record.
The Islanders will remain at the American Bank Center to host last season's regular-season champion Central Arkansas on Saturday, Jan. 19. Tipoff is slated for 12 p.m.