THE OPENING TIP
After seeing a three game win streak snapped, the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will look to get another one started on Friday, as it hosts UT-Pan American at 2 p.m. in the American Bank Center.
• The Islanders have struggled at home, winning just one out of four games, but have gone 3-0 on the road with wins against Belmont (72-62), Tennessee State (76-74) and Texas State (68-60). This is the first time since the 2004-05 season that the team has had three straight road wins.
• As a team, A&M – Corpus Christi is third in the Southland Conference in three-point percentage, shooting at a 34 percent clip from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 28 of the teams 40 made shots from deep.
• A&M – Corpus Christi has drastically improved its rebounding performance after its opponents pulled down 27 more than the Islanders in the first three games. In the last four, the team has secured 60 more rebounds than its competitors, placing them first in the Southland with a +4.7 rebounding margin.
• The Islanders came into the 2013-14 season with the Southland's top-ranked recruiting class, and they have proved their talent, with the top two scores on the team being new faces.
• The team features 10 newcomers this season after losing three starters and eight total letterwinners.
• 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 and is averaging 14.7 points a game through the first seven this season.
The two schools are very familiar with each other, as this will be the 29th meeting between A&M – Corpus Christi and UT–Pan American with the Islanders leading the series 19-9. A&M – Corpus Christi completely dominated the series early on, going 14-1 in the first 15 matchups with a 16-point average margin of victory. The Islanders then won the next four out of six. However, the Broncs have made the series much more competitive as of late, winning seven of the last eight matchups. UTPA is currently on a four-game win streak against the Islanders, including a 49-45 win in Corpus Christi last year.
The Coastal Bend will be the fourth stop in the Broncs season-high five game road swing. UTPA has won its first three games of its roadrip with wins against Norfolk State (50-36) and Northern Iowa (70-47) during the UTSA Classic, followed by a win against another Southland school, beating Houston Baptist 76-74. The Broncs will conclude their five-straight away from Edinburg against TCU a week after their matchup with The Islanders.
The Broncs have had big wins against Schreiner (87-46) and Texas Lutheran (80-37), which has helped them to a +13.0 scoring margin. They have also done a good job in forcing turnovers, causing their opponents to cough up the ball an average of 23.7 times a game, while they have only done so 15.4 times on average.
UTPA has nearly three players averaging double digits in scoring in the form of Shawnte' Goff (10.6), Brittany Bush (10.0) and KaeLynn Boyd (9.7). Bush is close to averaging a double-double with 8.4 boards a game, as well as 19 blocks on the season.
LAST TIME OUT
Against UTSA the Islanders were unable to get into any offensive rhythm, shooting a season low of 23.6 percent to go along with a season-high 30 turnovers. Despite their shooting woes, they still forced the Roadrunners to overtime, but were unable to score a field goal and were outscored 6-1 in the extra five minutes of play, resulting in a 55-50 loss.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Heading into their two games in Nashville, the Islanders had been outrebounded by 27 total boards. However, A&M – Corpus Christi dominated the rebounding stats in its trip to the Volunteer State, outrebounding both Belmont and Tennessee State by 13. The Islanders then finished off the roadtrip by outrebounding Texas State by 19, while also snatching up 23 offensive rebounds compared to the Bobcats' seven.
On Thursday, the Islanders once again cleaned up everything on the board, snatching up 15 more rebounds than UTSA. A&M – Corpus Christi has now vaulted to first in the conference in rebound margin and offensive rebounds, and second in the Southland in defensive rebounds
DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SHAW?
Jasmine Shaw, a senior transfer from Marshall, has tallied three games of 20 or more points this season and is almost averaging nearly 15 points a game. Last season, no Islander had more than two games with more than 20 throughout the entire 2012-13 campaign.
In the game against Tennessee State, she struggled from the field, going just 3-of-12 and 1-of 6- from downtown. However, she still made a huge impact on the team, setting a career high in rebounds with 13 — seven offensively — and in assists with nine. She also knocked down seven of her nine free throws to give her 14 points on the night, meaning she came just one assist short of picking up the first triple-double in Islanders' history. For good measure in that game she also hit the game-winning jumper with five seconds left and recorded four steals in the matchup.
However, she has struggled in her last two games, scoring a total of just seven points, making just three of her 20 attempts from the field, missing all seven of her three point attempts
Senior Brandi Huff had a breakthrough performance in the matchup against Tennessee State, setting a career high in rebounds while matching her top scoring outing. The Rockport-Fulton native notched her first career double-double, pulling down 11 boards to go along with a team high 15 points. She then matched her career-high in rebounds against UTSA, picking up five on offense and six on defense.
Freshman Brittany Mbamalu has mad a significant impact on the team, especially with her pinpoint shooting ability from three-point range. She has contributed 37.5 percent of the teams made threes.
In her first two games she only saw two minutes of action in both games. However, she logged 19 minutes of play against Southern Utah, and went 3-of-8 from behind the arc for nine points, earning herself a spot in the starting rotation.
In her four games as a starter, Mbmamlu has had double-digit scoring performances in each outing with 14 against Belmont and Texas State and 11 against Tennessee State. She added 12 more against UTSA, including two more threes. She now ranks fifth in the Southland in three point percentage (41.7) and sixth in three pointers made (15).
In each of its three 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.
A&M – Corpus Christi then saw a four-point lead against UTSA dwindle away over the final 3:22 of regulation before being outscored 6-1 in overtime to fall 55-50.
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 Jua' 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.
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.
The Islanders will now be on a 10-day break for finals, as they will not play again until Dec. 19 at Texas Southern at 4 p.m. They will then wrap up their short two-game road stint with a 2 p.m. matchup at UT Arlington before Christmas break.