HUSTON-TILLOTSON VS. TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI
Monday, Dec. 30 • 7 p.m. CT
American Bank Center • Corpus Christi, Texas
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will play its final nonconference game of the season, as it hosts Huston-Tillotson for a Monday night matchup with the Lady Rams at 7 p.m.
• This Islanders dropped their first road game of the season, losing to UT Arlington 75-64 to snap a four-game road win streak. It was also the team's first double-digit loss of the year.
• 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 53 of the team's 67 made shots from deep. In the last two games, the duo has accounted for all 21 of the teams threes.
• 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. The Islanders have outrebounded six of their last seven opponents and are now first in the Southland with a +4.4 rebounding margin.
• 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 victory 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 16.7 points a game through the first nine this season.
This meeting will mark the 5th matchup between the Islanders and Huston-Tillotson. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi has definitely had the edge in the matchups, winning all four games to this point. No game has even been close between the two squads, as the Islanders have a 50.3 average margin of victory in the four games.
This will be the first time the two schools have faced each other since A&M – Corpus Christi beat Huston-Tillotson 85-44 on Dec. 9, 2006, which was the closest game of the series. Every game between the two schools has been in the Coastal Bend.
Huston-Tillotson is an NAIA school that plays in the Red River Athletic Conference. The Lady Rams are coming off of their first win of the season, after throttling conference foe Southwest (N.M.) 103-51 before losing to Southland foe Houston Baptist 99-48 on Saturday. Prior to its lone victory, HTU had lost its first four games, including a 73-45 loss to Texas State who the Islanders beat earlier this year.
Despite losing five out of their first six games, the Lady Rams are still averaging more than 68 points a game, while shooting 36 percent from the field. However, they are shooting just 26 percent from behind the three-point line. The team's leading scorer is Trazhazia Webb, who has scored 21 or more points in each game she has played in. She has seen action in the last three games after sitting the first few games out. Webb is averaging 22.7 points a game, knocking down half of the shots she has taken.
Janiqua Moore is HTU's second leading scorer, dropping an average of 14 points a game. Shaniqua Thomas is the Lady Rams' leading rebounder with nine per game to go along with 9.4 points a game. However, she has not played in either of her team's last two outings.
LAST TIME OUT
The Islanders dropped their first road game of the season, falling to UT Arlington 75-64 in the College Park Center. This also marked the first time this season that A&M – Corpus Christi lost by double digits. The Islanders ran into the Mavericks best game of the season, as a team that shoots just 33 percent a game hit 55.8 percent.
Once again, Jasmine Shaw had a strong game with 19 points, helping the Islanders cut the deficit to three. However, she fouled out for the first time of the season with nearly four minutes still left to play.
Brittany Mbamalu had a record-setting performance, earning a new school record with 18 three-point attempts. She made six of them en route to a career-high 20 points. As a whole, the team attempted one more three in a game then ever before, setting a school record with 34 shots from downtown.
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.
After getting outrebounded for the first time in five games at Texas Southern, the Islanders won the rebound battle against UTA despite losing the game. The Islanders are still first in the Southland with a +4.4 rebounding margin.
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 16.7 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. Shaw kept rolling heading into the Christmas break, knocking down another five threes and a total of 19 points at UTA.
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 figures 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 seven games as a starter, Mbmamlu has hit double figures in each outing. She now ranks 13th in the Southland in three-point percentage (.351) and third in three pointers made (2.6 per game). Mbamalu also shattered a school record with 18 three-point attempts in the game at UTA wit the previous high being 13 — which she had tied in the game at Texas Southern.
In each of its first 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. However, in their last loss, the Islanders were downed by double-digits for the first time this season in a 75-64 defeat by UTA. They did keep it close though, as it was just a three point game with less than three minutes left to play.
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.
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.
After finishing last season 3-15 in conference play, 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.
With the completion of this game, the Islanders will turn their focus to Southland opponents, as they will head to Conway, Ark., the day after New Year's for a 5:30 p.m. matchup with Central Arkansas on Jan. 2 to kickoff conference play.