TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (2-20, 1-10 SLC) AT CENTRAL ARKANSAS (13-10, 6-6 SLC)
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team will travel to Conway, Ark. to take on Central Arkansas Thursday, Feb. 14 in the second half of Southland Conference action. The Islanders snapped a string of 11 losses, including 10 straight in conference play, after clinching a 60-59 victory over McNeese State on Saturday in the Islanders Homecoming game.
The Islanders are looking to bounce back from a 55-40 home loss to the Sugar Bears earlier this season. Thursday's game will mark the eighth meeting between the two teams. The Islanders have the 4-3 series advantage. Central Arkansas has won the last three out of four contests and enters Thursday's game with a 13-10 record, including a 6-6 record in SLC play while the Islanders are 2-20 and 1-10 in the SLC. UCA sits in sixth place in the SLC rankings while the Islanders sit in 10th.
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 563 wins on his collegiate coaching resume. Chadwick picked up his first Southland Conference victory on Saturday since winning the SLC title with SFA in 2001.
•The Islanders snapped an 11-game losing streak Saturday in a 60-59 last second victory over McNeese State.
•A late rally in the final seconds capped off with a three-point play by Marquesha Anderson-Sparks with 2.3 seconds lifted the Islanders to their first conference victory of the season.
•Chadwick clinched his first SLC victory since winning the SLC title with SFA in 2001.
•Nine Islanders finished in the scoring column in Saturday's victory.
•Verne'qua Taylor tallied a season-high eight rebounds to lead the Islanders' glass and Jammer chipped in six on Saturday.
•The Islanders scored 26 of their 60 points in the paint and 31 points came from the Islanders' bench.
•Jessica Jammer leads the team with 8.2 points per game. Jammer also leads the Islanders in conference play with 9.0 points per game. Janae Blount is second on the team with 8.0 points per game.
•Coach Chadwick has used 13 different starting lineups this season. On Saturday, he used the starting lineup of Jessica Jammer, Ashanti Plummer, Ashley Darley, 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 SUGAR BEARS
The Sugar Bears and Islanders will meet for the eighth time in program history. The Islanders lead the all-time series 4-3.
The last time the Islanders and Sugar Bears met up was on January 19 at the American Bank Center. The Islanders dropped a 55-40 loss to Central Arkansas earlier this season after leading 23-22 at the half. The Islanders saw their lead quickly evaporate in the second half to drop their 16th game of the season. Brandi Huff powered the Islanders with 10 points and a career-high eight rebounds while Marquesha Anderson-Sparks added nine. The Islanders' bench outscored the Sugar Bears' bench 21-13.
The Sugar Bears have dropped five of its last six games. Central Arkansas is coming off a 52-47 road loss to Northwestern State and a 53-45 loss to Stephen F. Austin. The Sugar Bears are averaging 62.6 points per game behind Megan Herbert's 18.4 points per game and Courtney Duever's 13.8 points per game. Herbert leads the boards with 11.2 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.
Jessica Jammer has powered the Islanders' offense in conference play. She leads the Islanders in scoring with 8.2 per game (26th, SLC) and has registered six double-figure scoring games this season. She leads the team also in conference play with 9.0 points per game. Jammer leads the Islanders glass with 5.5 rebounds per game, which is good for 17th 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 28th 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 15 of the 21 Islanders' games. She is third on the team with 7.6 points per game in 18.1 minutes per game. She has chipped in a team-high 31 steals apiece (11th, 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.
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 the charity stripe.
Right behind Darley is Alisa Roberts who is fourth on the team with 5.6 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 32 assists and has started in 14 of the Islanders' 22 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 .780 percentage (32-of-41). 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 six of its last seven opponents. The Islanders notched the 31-11 bench advantage over McNeese State. Prior to that, the Islanders sealed a 31-17 bench advantage vs. Sam Houston State. The Islanders also outscored Oral Roberts' bench 16-8 and followed it with a 21-13 bench advantage vs. UCA. The Islanders' bench outscored Nicholls State's bench 23-21 and the Lady Lions' bench 10-8.
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 Tulsa, Okla. to take on Oral Roberts on Saturday, Feb. 16. Tipoff is slated for 5 p.m.