TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI AT UT ARLINGTON
Saturday, Dec. 21 • 3:30 p.m. CT
College Park Center • Arlington, Texas
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will play its final nonconference road game of the season, as it heads to UT Arlington for a Saturday matchup with the Mavericks at 3:30 p.m.
• This Islanders kept their road record unblemished, as they have gone 4-0 on the road with wins against Belmont (72-62), Tennessee State (76-74), Texas State (68-60) and Texas Southern (71-69).
• As a team, A&M – Corpus Christi is third in the Southland Conference in three-point percentage, shooting at a 33 percent clip from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 42 of the team's 56 made shots from deep. Against Texas Southern the duo accounted for all 10 of the teams treys.
• 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. Before the game at Texas Southern, the team has secured 74 more rebounds than its competitors in the previous five games.
• The Islanders came into the 2013-14 season with the Southland's top-ranked recruiting class, and it has proved its talent, with the top two scores on the team being new faces.
• The win against UTPA marked the 200th win in program history.
• 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 four and is averaging 16.4 points a game through the first nine this season.
This meeting will mark the 18th matchup between the Islanders and UTA. The Mavericks have a slight edge in the win column in matchups between the schools, holding a 10-7 record in the series.
However, the last few years UTA was in the Southland prior to moving to the Sun Belt, the series was dead even with the teams trading wins. From the 2008-09 season through the 2011-12 season the teams flip flopped in sweeping each other each year. The win discrepancy comes from the Mavericks winning the first seven matchups in conference play.
The Islanders do hold a significant advantage in nonconference play though, as they are 3-1 in those games against UTA.
The Mavericks are off to a difficult start to the season, as they have dropped their first 10 contests of the year and have been outscored by nearly 20 points a game. Only two of their games have been decided by single digits, both coming against Southland opponents, as they lost by four to Incarnate Word and seven to Abilene Christian.
UTA has had trouble scoring the ball this season, averaging just 56.3 points a game, while shooting at a .337 clip. The Mavericks have also had trouble keeping possession of the ball, as they cough it up an average of 24.2 times a game for a turnover margin of -9.2.
More than half of UTA's points have come from three sources, as Briana Walker (15.0 ppg), Laila Suleiman (9.6 ppg) and Desherra Nwanguma (9.4 ppg) have accounted for 340 of the team's 563 points.
Walker has also accounted for 7.9 rebounds a game, but has battled foul trouble, fouling out of the game four times. Nwanguma is in the same boat, pulling down 7.6 boards a game, but has been disqualified five times from fouls. Suleiman is UTA's main shooting threat, contributing 46 percent of the team's three pointers and is nearly perfect at the line, going 22-of-23 in the first 10 games. She also leads the team in assists with 19, but has turned the ball over 45 times.
LAST TIME OUT
The Islanders secured their fourth consecutive road win, as a buzzer beater by Taryn Gregory propelled A&M – Corpus Christi to a 71-69 win against Texas Southern. However, the game was not that close the whole way through, as the Islanders squandered a 19-point lead in the second half to make it a nail biter.
Jasmine Shaw tied a school record with seven threes made — six of which came in the first half — en route to a career-high 28-point performance. Brittany Mbamalu also tied a school record with 13 attempted shots from behind the arc. Besides hitting the game winner, Gregory had a good night distributing the ball with a career-high nine assists.
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.
The Islanders once again cleaned up everything on the board before this recent roadtrip, snatching up 15 more rebounds than UTSA and then pulled down 11 more than UTPA.
Although A&M – Corpus Christi was outrebounded for the first time in six games against Texas Southern, it is still first in the conference in rebound margin, overall rebounds and offensive rebounds.
DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SHAW?
Jasmine Shaw, a senior transfer from Marshall, has tallied four games of 20 or more points this season and is averaging 16.4 points a game. Last season, no Islander had more than two games with more than 20 throughout the entire campaign.
In the game against Tennessee State, Shaw 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.
She then struggled in her next 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. However, she bounced back against UTPA with 17 points, going 6-for-9 from the field, including two threes.
Shaw then followed up that performance with an even bigger one, scoring a career-high 28 points against Texas Southern, including seven threes, which tied a school record.
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.
Against UTPA she hit double digits in the scoring column for the third time of the season with 12 points. Then at Texas Southern Huff had seven points and six rebounds and tied career-highs in blocks (2) and steals (2).
Freshman Brittany Mbamalu has made a significant impact on the team, especially with her pinpoint shooting ability from three-point range.
In her first two games, she only saw two minutes of action combined. 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 six games as a starter, Mbmamlu has hit double figures in each outing. She now ranks 13th in the Southland in three-point percentage (.357) and eight in three pointers made (2.2 per game). Mbamalu also tied a school record with 13 three-point attempts in the game at Texas Southern.
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.
During the early signing period, the Islanders received National Letters of Intent from Emmeri Archer (Brooklyn, N.Y./ South Shore HS), Daryon Fields (Spring, Texas/St. Pius High School), Ashley James (Highland Village, Texas/Marcus High School) and Jennifer Ramirez (Brooklyn, N.Y./ASA Junior College).
A 5-foot-7 guard, Archer comes to the Islanders as a three-star recruit with a 90 ranking from ESPN. It also ranks her as the 18th player nationally at her position.
Coming from Spring, Texas, Fields will bring some inside presence to the Coastal Bend. The 6-foot-2 post is ranked 42nd in the nation at her position and 309th nationally overall. In her junior year at St. Pius, Fields nearly averaged a double-double with 10 points a game to go along with eight rebounds each time out.
James, a 5-foot-4 point guard from Marcus High School in Flower Mound, Texas. In her junior year she was named first team all-district and the defensive player of the year in her district. That season, James averaged 10 points, four steals and three assists per game. She has also picked up district MVP and offensive player of the year awards during her high school career.
Ramirez, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., comes to the Island University from ASA Junior College in New York City. Through her first six games for the Avengers, she is averaging 8.7 points and shooting 52.4 percent from the field, to go along with 3.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. She has helped lead her team to a perfect 6-0 start on the young season. Ramirez played her high school basketball at New York City Lab School. In her junior season she averaged 18.8 points, including a 35-point performance in her team's playoff game, as well as 6.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds a game.
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 play one more game in 2013, as they will host Huston-Tillotson on Dec. 30 after a week for Christmas break. The matchup is the final nonconference game for A&M – Corpus Christi and will be at 7 p.m. in the American Bank Center.