TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI AT TENNESSEE STATE
Thursday, Nov. 21 • 6 p.m. CT
Gentry Center • Nashville, Tenn.
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will hit the road for the first time this season, as it will head to Nashville, Tenn., for two games. The Islanders will take on Belmont on Tuesday, Nov. 19, followed by Tennessee State on Thursday, Nov. 21.
The Islanders just wrapped up a three-game homestand, going 1-2 during that stretch. In its first game of the season, the team picked its first win in an opener since the 2009-10 season, defeating Western Illinois in a 66-60 overtime thriller to advance to the championship game in the tournament. However, the Islanders would only be crowned the runners-up, coming up just one play away against Fairfield in the final game of the tournament, falling 58-55. The Islanders then fell to Southern Utah by seven to close out the streak of games at the Dugan Wellness Center.
• For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Islanders opened the season with a win.
• The Emerald Beach Islanders Classic marked the first time since 2010-11 that the Islanders hosted a tournament at home. A win against Western Illinois led the Islanders to an appearance in the championship game of the tournament.
• This marks the first time since the 2008-09 season that the Islanders have made their way to Tennessee, as they played Vanderbilt for their season opener that season.
• The Islanders come into the 2013-14 season with the Southland's top-ranked recruiting class.
• The team features 10 newcomers this season after losing three starters and eight total letterwinners.
• Senior Ashley Darley returns as the team's leading point scorer. Last season Darley averaged 7.9 points a game after sitting out the 2011-12 campaign with a medical redshirt. She is on a similar clip so far this season, averaging 7.7 points in the team's first three games.
• After struggling to find offense last year, Marshall transfer Jasmine Shaw has become the main offensive threat for the Islanders. Last season no Islander had more than two 20-point games. Shaw already has three in as many games.
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between A&M – Corpus Christi and Belmont with the Bruins holding a 5-2 lead in the series. The two schools met up last season in the Coastal Bend with Belmont coming out on top 75-54. The two team's played twice in both of the Islanders first two season's in program history, with the sides splitting wins each year. However, since that time, Belmont has gotten the best of the series, winning the last three.
This season Belmont has started off with a 2-2 record with victories against Mercer and Lipscomb, while its losses have come against IUPUI and Chattanooga.
The Bruins are led offensively by Jordyn Luffman who is averaging 15.3 points a game to go along with 8.5 rebounds. She has recorded two double-doubles in the teams four games. Another threat for Belmont is Blair Bryce, who is almost another double-digit scorer for her team, averaging 9.8 points a game. However, Blair has battled with foul trouble throughout the season with nearly four fouls a game, resulting in her playing time only averaging out to 20.3 minutes a game. The Islanders will have to work for their rebounds as well, as Belmont comes into the game outrebounding its opponent by 2.5, while A&M – Corpus Christi has a rebounding margin of -9.0 thus far in the season.
This will mark the first time since the second year of existence of Islanders women's basketball that it will take on Tennessee State. A&M – Corpus Christi matched up with the Lady Tigers on Dec. 1, 2000, as part of the Commerce Bank Classic in Manhattan, Kan. The Islanders were able to come out on top by a score of 78-63.
This season TSU has had a schedule opposite of the Islanders, as it has played its first four games of the season on the road and will finally get to play at home on Thursday. Away from the Gentry Center, the Lady Tigers have gone 1-3 with trips all across the country, losing to Kansas State, Kennesaw State and Florida A&M. Their lone victory of the season came at Troy, winning 77-71.
Looking at the stats for the Lady Tigers it is easy to tell who the leader is for them, as Chelsea Hudson is putting up 18 points a game, as well as pulling down 32 boards over the Lady Tigers three games. However, she, along with the rest of her teammates, have had trouble controlling the ball, as the Lady Tigers have coughed it up an average of 21 times a game.
DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SHAW?
Jasmine Shaw, a senior transfer from Marshall, has now tallied three-straight games of twenty or more. Last season, no Islander had more than two games with more than 20 throughout the entire 2012-13 campaign. She currently ranks fourth in the Southland in scoring with 21.7 points per game. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native shot 48 percent from the field and knocked down 10-of-11 free throws during the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic en route to 42 points in two games.
Shaw also added 23 points against Southern Utah the following week. She stepped up her defense as well, recording six steals, which was one shy of tying a school record. Through her first three games Shaw is shooting 50 percent from the field and nearly an identical 47.4 percent from downtown. She has been nearly perfect from the line as well, shooting at a 93.3 percent clip.
Another transfer that has made a significant impact on the team is Shola Adebayo, coming from Eastern Oklahoma State. She became the first player at A&M – Corpus Christi to record six steals in her first game, just one shy of tying an all-time record.
Adebayo also added 14 points, five rebounds and four assists to help the Islanders make it to the championship game. She was then given her first start of her career with the Islanders against Southern Utah on Nov. 14. Against a very big team, the 5-foot-8 guard pulled down five rebounds, three offensively, while adding six points to boot.
Shaw and senior Ashley Darley were named to the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic All-Tournament Team. Darley was also a major cog in the offense throughout the week, picking up a double-double against Western Illinois with 13 points and 11 rebounds to help the Islanders advance to the championship game.
In both of its two loses A&M – Corpus Christi has come up just short, losing by an average of just five points. In its loss against Fairfield in the championship game of the Emerald Beach Islanders Classic, the Islanders were just one play away from tying the game up. However, down three, they were not able to get a three-pointer off before the buzzer sounded. Then in the matchup with Southern Utah, the Islanders trailed by just four late in the game before the Thunderbirds pushed the lead back to seven before the final horn sounded.
With the departure of eight players from last year's squad, the Islanders only have four returners for the 2013-14 season made up of three seniors and one sophomore. The leading scorer out of the bunch was Ashley Darley, who was second on the team in points scored with 7.9 a game. Darley also ranked second on the team in rebounds per game and steals per game last year.
Taryn Gregory also returns for her final season after starting in 20 games last year. She comes into the year ranking fourth in career free-throw percentage with a .764 overall mark her first three years. Brandi Huff rounds out the trio of seniors after ranking third on the team in rebounds.
The lone sophomore on A&M – Corpus Christi's roster is Ashanti Plummer. The Manhattan, N.Y., native enters play this year after making an impact on the team her freshman year, ranking second on the team in games started with 22 and first in the team in blocks and 11th in the Southland in the same category.
The Islanders enter this season with the top-ranked recruiting class in the Southland after signing 10 newcomers. However, five of them join the Island University with collegiate experience – three at the Division I level.
Two of the transfers have played for coach Royce Chadwick, as Shay Weaver and Jasmine Shaw come to the Island University after playing for him at Marshall. Shaw will look to make an immediate impact, while Weaver will sit out this season because of NCAA transfer rules.
Alissa Campanero will look to get the ball in the hands of shooters as she dished out 4.9 assists per game last season with Odessa College and has experience in Division I after playing her freshman season at Hawaii.
Adebayo played at Eastern Oklahoma State Community College and averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game, while securing 12 double-doubles, picking up First Team All-Conference, First Team All-Region and Third Team NJCAA All-American honors.
Lexy Harris joins the Islanders after averaging a double-double with Angelina Community College, averaging 12.8 points per game and 10.9 rebounds to go along with 2.1 blocks per game.
Rounding off the highly touted recruiting class are five freshmen, with all but one of those coming from Texas. Ranked No. 63 in the ESPN Girls Recruiting National Rankings was Camesha Davis who averaged 16 points and 8.5 rebounds at Desoto High School. Another freshman that comes to the Coastal Bend almost averaging a double-double is Doshi Davis who averaged 11 points, 8.3 rebounds as a senior at Memorial High School in Port Arthur, Texas.
A freshman that managed to average a double-double her senior season of high school was Brittany Mbamalu, pulling down 10.1 rebounds a game to go along with 20.8 points. She was also named first team all-district her junior and senior seasons. Looking to help out a team that averaged less than 50 points a game last season is Kassie Jones, who was ranked 10th in Texas in scoring her senior year, averaging 24 points a game.
The lone freshman from outside of Texas is Rau Jau' Terry who comes to A&M – Corpus Christi from Louisville, Ky., and was rated one of the top 250 players in the country by Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
FILLING THE VOID
The Islanders will have to find a way to make up for losing its top scorer with Jessica Jammer departing after tallying 8.4 points a game last year. It also loses its assists leader, as Verne'Qua Taylor leaves after climbing to fifth in the Islanders record book, while ranking ninth in the Southland with 3.31 assists per game. Taylor also ranked first on the team and 11th in the conference in steals.
After finishing last season 3-15, the Islanders have been picked by the Southland coaches to finish ninth in the conference, while the SID Poll has A&M – Corpus Christi occupying the 10th spot.
After two games in the Volunteer State, the Islanders will head back to Texas to complete their three-game stretch of away games. A&M – Corpus Christi will match up with Texas State the night before Thanksgiving. The game is set for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday, Nov. 27, in San Marcos, Texas.