MCNEESE STATE (12-10, 7-4 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-20, 0-10 SLC)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team will remain at the American Bank Center to host McNeese State on Homecoming Saturday, Feb. 9 in the second half of Southland Conference action. The Islanders are looking to snap a string of 10 conference losses and bounce back from a 68-39 road loss to the Cowgirls earlier this season. The Islanders are coming off a 68-46 home loss to Lamar on Thursday while McNeese State holds a 7-4 record in Southland Conference action and is tied for third place with Oral Roberts.
Saturday's game will mark the eighth meeting between the two teams. The Cowgirls have the 4-3 series advantage. McNeese State has won the last three out of four contests and enters Saturday's game with a 12-10 record, including a 7-4 record in SLC play while the Islanders are 1-20 and 0-10 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 tallied her second straight double-double on Thursday against Lamar. She paced the Islanders with 11 points and matched her career-high with 12 rebounds.
•The Islanders outrebounded the Lady Cardinals 45-42.
•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.
•Jessica Jammer leads the team with 8.2 points per game, which ranks 24th in the Southland Conference. Jammer also leads the Islanders in conference play with 9.1 points per game. Janae Blount is second on the team with 8.0 points per game (T-26th, SLC).
•Coach Chadwick has used 12 different starting lineups this season. On Thursday, he used the starting lineup of Jessica Jammer, Ashanti Plummer, Brandi Huff, Taryn Gregory 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 COWGIRLS
The Cowgirls and Islanders will meet for the eighth time in program history. The Cowgirls have the 4-3 series advantage.
The Islanders dropped a 44-37 loss to McNeese State earlier this season in Lake Charles, La. The Islanders led the boards but it wasn't enough as the Islanders suffered a 68-39 loss to the Cowgirls. McNeese State was powered by three players in double-figure scoring. Jammer paced the Islanders with nine points while Ashley Darley added seven points.
McNeese State is tied for third in the Southland Conference rankings with a 7-4 record. The Cowgirls have won four of its last five games. McNeese State is coming off a 60-53 road loss to league leader Sam Houston State. The Cowgirls are averaging 67.3 points per game behind Ashlyn Baggett's 18.3 points per game and Caitlyn Baggett's 13.8 points per game. Cecilia Okoye leads the boards with 6.7 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 leads the Islanders in scoring with 8.2 per game and has registered six double-figure scoring games this season. She leads the team also in conference play with 9.1 points per game. Jammer leads the Islanders glass with 5.4 rebounds per game, which is good for 18th place in the SLC.
BE BLUNT ABOUT IT
Freshman guard Janae Blount is second on the team with 8.0 points per game which is good for a tie for 26th place 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 20 Islanders' games. She is third on the team with 7.6 points per game in 17.8 minutes per game. She has chipped in a team-high 29 steals apiece (13th, SLC).
Darling recorded a career-high 29 points vs. Sam Houston State and grabbed 11 rebounds. She followed that performance with her second double-double of the year with 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds vs. Lamar. 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 and matched it vs. Lamar.
Taryn Gregory has dished out 30 assists and has started in 13 of the Islanders' 21 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 five of its last six 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 have led at the half seven times this season. The last time came against Sam Houston State at the Dugan Wellness Center. The Islanders headed into the locker room with a 26-25 lead. 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 travel to Conway, Ark. on Thursday, Feb. 14, to take on Central Arkansas. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.