LAMAR (14-6, 7-3 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-19, 0-9 SLC)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team will return to the American Bank Center to host Lamar in the play 4Kay Pink Game on Thursday, Feb. 7 in the second half of Southland Conference action. The Islanders are looking to snap a string of nine conference losses and bounce back from a 44-37 road loss to the Lady Cardinals earlier this season. The Islanders are coming off a 68-53 home loss to Sam Houston State on Friday while Sam Houston State holds a 7-3 record in Southland Conference action and is in a three-way tie for second place with McNeese State and Oral Roberts.
Thursday's game will mark the 17th meeting between the two teams. The series is tied at eight games apiece. Lamar has won the last four contests and enters Thursday's game with a 14-6 record, including a 7-3 record in SLC play while the Islanders are 1-19 and 0-9 in the SLC.
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.
•Junior Ashley Darley recorded a career-high 29 points on 13-of-16 shooting and tallied a season-high 11 rebounds Friday in a 68-53 home loss to Sam Houston State. At the half she tallied 10 points in seven minutes of play on 4-of-4 shooting from the field. It was the first double double for any Islander this season.
•For the fifth straight game, the Islanders had contribution from their bench. On Friday, against Sam Houston State, the Islanders' bench notched the 31-17 advantage. Darley scored 29 of the Islanders' 31 bench points.
•The Islanders led at the half on Friday for the seventh time this season but was unable to hold the lead. The Islanders are 1-6 when leading at the half.
•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.
•Janae Blount leads the team with 8.3 points per game, which ranks 25th in the Southland Conference. Jammer leads the Islanders in conference play with 9.1 points per game.
•Coach Chadwick has used 11 different starting lineups this season. On Friday, he used the starting lineup of Jessica Jammer, Ashanti Plummer, Brandi Huff, Janae Blount and Verne'qua Taylor for the first time this season. 10 of the 12 active Islanders have started at least two games this season.
SCOUTING THE LADY CARDINALS
The Lady Cardinals and Islanders will meet for the 17th time in program history. The series is tied at 8-8.
The Islanders dropped a 44-37 loss to Lamar in the first contest of the season in Beaumont, Texas. The Islanders led the Lady Cardinals at the half, but Lamar's second-half play edged the Islanders. Ashley Darley powered the Islanders with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field. Brandi Huff led the Islanders' glass with seven rebounds while Jessica Jammer chipped in six.
Lamar has won four of its last six games. The Lady Cardinals sit in a three-way tie for second place in the conference with a 7-3 conference record. Lamar is coming off a 61-55 overtime home victory over Stephen F. Austin and a 53-34 home victory over Northwestern State. Lamar is averaging 63.5 points per game behind Kalis Loyd's 18.1 points per game and Carenn Baylor's 8.1 points per game. Loyd also leads the boards with 7.1 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.
A DUNN DEAL
At Nicholls State, Imani Dunn tallied eight points all in the first half, including 2-for-4 from behind the arc in her third start of the season. Prior to that, the senior made her first season start vs. Oral Roberts and gave the Islanders a spark, scoring the first seven points for the Islanders. She also tied a career-high three from behind the arc in a career-high 32 minutes. At Southeastern La., Dunn tallied six points going 6-for-8 from behind the arc.
Jessica Jammer has powered the Islanders' offense in conference play. She is second in scoring with 8.2 per game and has registered six double-figure scoring games this season. She leads the team with 5.4 rebounds per game, which is good for 20th place in the SLC. The senior leads the Islanders in conference play with 9.1 points per game.
BE BLUNT ABOUT IT
Freshman guard Janae Blount is leading the Islanders with 8.3 points per game which is good for 25th in the SLC in scoring. She has scored seven double-figure scoring games this season. 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 14 of the 19 Islanders' games. She is third on the team with 7.4 points per game in 17.4 minutes per game. She has chipped in a team-high 29 steals apiece (11th, SLC).
Darling recorded a career-high 29 points vs. Sam Houston State and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds. Prior to that she tallied 17 points at UTPA and grabbed seven rebounds vs. Auburn. She also scored 12 points in both games against Colorado and Auburn in the Omni Hotels Classic. She 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 SLC 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 and seven at Nicholls State.
Taryn Gregory has dished out 30 assists and has started in 12 of the Islanders' 20 games this season. She tallied a season-high nine points at Southeastern La. Marquesha Anderson-Sparks has been strong this season from the charity stripe with a .775 percentage (31-of-40). The junior made her first season start at Lamar and started against UCA where she went 7-for-8 from the free throw line.
The Islanders' bench has outscored its last five opponents. The Islanders notched the 31-17 bench advantage vs. Sam Houston State. Prior to that, the Islanders outscored Oral Roberts' bench 16-8 and followed it with a 21-13 bench advantage vs. UCA. The Islanders' bench also outscored Nicholls State's bench 23-21 and the Lady Lions' bench 10-8.
LEADING AT THE HALF
The Islanders took a 26-25 lead at the half vs. Sam Houston State on Friday on 37.9 percent shooting from the field. It was the seventh time this season the Islanders headed into the locker room ahead. The Islanders are 1-6 when leading at the half.
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. Darren Brunson also made his Islanders' coaching debut this season as the Islanders Assistant Coach. Geoff Grawn is in his 11th season on the Islanders' staff as an assistant coach.
The Islanders will return to the American Bank Center on Saturday, Feb. 9 to host McNeese State. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.