January 18, 2014

Women’s Basketball Edged Out by Nicholls

THIBODAUX, La. – The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team came up just short, as a three off the glass for Nicholls with time winding down led the Colonels to a 67-60 victory in Stopher Gym on Saturday.  

Brittany Mbamalu had a huge afternoon for the Islanders, as she tied a school record with seven threes — six in the first half — for a career-high 23 points.

After getting shut down for just two points in the first half, the Islanders' leading scorer Jasmine Shaw finished with double digits, picking up nine points in the second half for 11 total points.

Emani White, who leads the Southland in scoring, hit the fatal blow to the Islanders, as she had six points in the final 38 seconds for a team-high 18 points. Three other Colonels had double-digit games in the form of Jenny Nash (12), KK Babin (10) and Jasmine Scott (10).

The Islanders did a much better job of shutting down their opponents from behind the arc, as they limited Nicholls to just 6-of-22 from behind the arc. However, A&M – Corpus Christi did not shoot the ball well from deep outside of Mbamalu, as the rest of the team went just 2-of-19 from three-point land.

Right out of the gate, it was Shaw who got the Islanders on the board with a layup just seconds after they won the tip. A layup for Nicholls tied the game up, before Mbamalu notched her first three of the half to put A&M – Corpus Christi up 5-2 just 40 seconds into the game.

However, the Colonels responded with an 11-2 run over the next 3:42 with the help of two triples of their own to jump out to a 13-7 lead.

The teams traded a pair of buckets before Mbamalu fired from downtown once again to pull the Islanders back within three. Nicholls responded with a three of its own though, followed by a pair of free throws to jump out to its biggest lead of the game at eight with 10:46 on the clock.

The Islanders charged right back, as Brandi Huff recorded an old-fashioned three-point play, while Taryn Gregory canned a normal three to shrink the lead back down to two.

After two points for each side, the Islanders took their first lead of the game as Mbamalu knocked down her third three of the game to put her at seventh for most threes in a season with 47 and put her team up 23-22 at 6:59.

Mbamalu's fourth three of the half then extended the lead up to four, before a Shola Adebayo layup put the visitors up 28-22 with just over five minutes left in the half.

Nicholls bounced back to record the next six out of eight points to pull within two, but Mbamalu continued her blistering start with another three to put A&M – Corpus Christi back up by five with time running down in the half.

A pair of free throws for the Colonels cut it to a one-possession game, but Mbamalu dropped her sixth and final bomb of the half to give the Islanders a 36-30 advantage at the half.

The last three gave Mbamalu 20 points in the half to already tie her career high just 20 minutes in, missing just one of her seven shots from deep.

Coming out of the half, Shaw built the Islanders' lead up to nine with a three 20 seconds in. A Darley jumper then gave the Islander their biggest lead of the game, putting the visitors up 41-30 with 18:55 left in the game.

However, Nicholls did not let the lead become insurmountable, as it held the Islanders scoreless over the next 3:06, scoring nine points in that time to cut the lead all the way down to two with 16:13 left on the clock.

Camesha Davis hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back up to four, but the Colonels responded by connecting from deep to make it a 43-42 game.

After not scoring in the first five minutes of the half after her incredible start to the game, Mbamalu hit her seventh three of the game to give her a new career high at 23, tie a school record for threes made in a game and, most importantly, put her team back up by four.

Back-to-back layups by Shaw then extended the lead back out to eight, looking to put the Islanders in control with 12:46 left on the clock.

A&M – Corpus Christi faced a five minute and 24 second stretch where they were unable to score a field goal before Ashley Darley notched a layup after scooping up an offensive board to put her team up 54-49 with 7:22 left in the game. 

However, after cutting the Islander lead to one twice, Nicholls finally took the lead after the Islanders held it for more than 20 minutes, as a pair of free throws by Jenny Nash put the Colonels up 57-56 with 3:57 to play.

The Islanders got a little bit of a lucky bounce, literally, as an errant pass went off the referee and Darley was able to scoop it up and lay it in to put the visitors back up by one with 2:32 on the clock.

A free throw for Nicholls tied the game up, before the teams traded buckets to result in the fifth tie of the game to make it a nail biter with 90 seconds remaining.

That was when the luck went the way of the Colonels, as White heaved a shot from the point with the shot clock running down, and it managed to go in, as it banked off the back of the glass and in.

She then stole the ball and took it the other way for a layup with 28 seconds left to essentially seal the game for Nicholls to hand the Islanders their fourth loss in a row.

A&M – Corpus Christi will now head back home for two games this upcoming week, facing Southeastern Louisiana at 5 p.m. on Thursday, followed by a 4 p.m. matchup against Southland newcomer New Orleans on Saturday.