ISLANDERS (8-9, 1-5) VS.
THE OPENING TIP
The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team will look to get back to .500, as it plays its fourth game of the year in the Dugan Wellness Center in a matchup with Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday.
• It has been a difficult start to conference play, as the Islanders have dropped five out of their first six meetings. However, only one of those six teams was not picked in the Southland preseason polls to finish in the top six.
• The magic numbers for the team this season have been 40 and 70. The Islanders are 5-0 when shooting 40 percent or better and 4-0 when scoring at least 70 points. On the flipside, when their opponents shoot better than 40 percent, the Islanders are 3-8 and are 1-3 when giving up 70 or more.
• As a team, A&M – Corpus Christi is second in the Southland in three-point percentage, shooting 34 percent from behind the arc. Brittany Mbamalu and Jasmine Shaw have recorded a majority of the treys, combining for 95 of the team's 117 made shots from deep. In the last eight games, the duo has accounted for 63 of the team'S 71 threes.
• After averaging 21.5 turnovers in nonconference play, the Islanders have done a better job of holding on to the ball with just 16 turnovers a game in their six Southland games.
• After struggling to find offense last year, senior transfer Jasmine Shaw has become a main offensive threat for the Islanders. Last season, no Islander had more than two 20-point games. Shaw already has five and leads the team with 16.4 points per game.
This will be the 10th all-time meeting between A&M – Corpus Christi and Southeastern. The Lady Lions hold a slight advantage in the series, winning five out of the first nine games.
Last season, Southeastern won both games, as it was the first time the two squads met twice in a season. The Lady Lions won 66-54 in Hammond and 72-68 in Corpus Christi. Prior to that, the teams split the first six meetings in conference play. Every game played in the Southland has been very competitive, as the average points margin of victory has been 6.4, with only the first matchup of season last year being decided by double digits.
However, the one game played in nonconference play couldn't have been more one-sided, as the Islanders beat Southeastern 97-48.
Southeastern has had a much better start to Southland play, going 3-2 in conference games after winning just one of its 12 nonconference matchups. However, the Lady Lions faced some stiff competition prior to getting into conference, facing teams from the SEC, ACC, Conference USA and American. Their lone win came against the University of Moblie (Ala.) in their season opener.
Southeastern has struggled mightily on the road, going just 1-9 in true away games and 0-3 in neutral sites. The Lady Lions' one road win came against a similar opponent to A&M – Corpus Christi, as they faired much better than the Islanders in Lake Charles with an 82-65 win against McNeese. However, Nicholls beat Southeastern by a much larger margin than it beat the Islanders, knocking off the Lady Lions by nearly 30.
The Lady Lions have been hot lately, beating both Incarnate Word and Lamar, while dropping the game in between those to Sam Houston by just one point in OT.
Southeastern gets contributions from several players, as it has four players averaging double figures. The highest of those is Symone Miller, who is averaging 14.2 points a game on a nightly basis. The second-leading scorer is also the leading rebounder, as Nanna Pool comes in pulling down 9.7 boards a game to go along with 12.2 points. First Team Preseason All-Conference player Aja Gibson (11.8) and Elizabeth Styles (10.7) round out the double-digit scorers.
LAST TIME OUT
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 downtown. 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.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
Heading into their two games in Nashville in November, 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 boards when they returned home, 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. They then backed it up with 17 more boards than Huston-Tillotson.
However, as of late, the Islanders have had similar rebounding results as the first games of the season. Through the first six games in Southland Conference play, the rebounding difference has led to several of the Islanders' losses, as they have been outrebounded by an average margin of 6.2 rebounds, dropping them from first to fourth in that category.
YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU SHAW?
Jasmine Shaw, a senior transfer from Marshall, has tallied five games of 20 or more points this season and is averaging 16.4 points a game, which ranks fifth in the Southland. Last season, no Islander had more than two games exceeding 20 points 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. She then added 16 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists against Huston-Tillotson.
In her first two Southland games, Shaw racked up 13 points against the Sugar Bears, followed by 19 points, five rebounds and three assists against Oral Roberts. Then, in her third game in the conference, she exploded for a career-high 29 points, while once again tying the school record with seven threes. She also crashed the boards for 10 rebounds to pick up her second double-double of the season. She then added 19 more against SFA to raise her to the third leading scorer in the conference.
She struggled against McNeese, though, as the Cowgirls held Shaw to just 2-of-6 from the field with no threes and just four points — her second lowest total of the season. Then, despite scoring 11 at Nicholls, she struggled from deep once again, making just one of her seven 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. 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).
Huff had arguably the biggest game of her tenure with a career-high 21 points to go along with 10 rebounds against Huston-Tillotson for her second double-double of the season. She went 7-of-9 from the field and made all seven of her shots from the charity stripe. Huff also blocked two shots and dished out two assists.
After struggling in the Southland opener, Huff bounced back to score nine points against Oral Roberts. She also set career-highs in the game with three steals and four blocks. Then, against Northwestern State she helped crash the boards with seven rebounds, as well as going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field for six points. She followed that up with nine points against SFA.
Freshman Brittany Mbamalu has made a significant impact on the team, especially with her pinpoint shooting ability from three-point range. With 51 threes this season, she currently ranks seventh in Islanders' history for a single season, and ranks 13th in the nation and first in the Southland with 3.0 triples a game.
In her first two games, she only saw two minutes of action combined. However, she logged 19 minutes of play against Southern Utah, and hit three threes for nine points, earning herself a spot in the starting rotation.
In her first seven games as a starter, Mbmamlu hit double figures in each outing. She now ranks second in the Southland in three pointers made (2.6 per game, 39 total). Mbamalu also shattered a school record with 18 three-point attempts in the game at UTA with the previous high being 13 — which she had tied in the game at Texas Southern.
Her streak of double figure performances was brought to a halt against Huston-Tillotson where she only had nine points. However, this was only in 16 minutes of play after she suffered an injury in the first half of play. She then got back in double figures with 10 points against UCA in her first conference game.
Mbamalu then posted her ninth and 10th games in double digits with four three pointers against the Lady Demons for 12 points before knocking down five from deep for a game-high 15 points at McNeese.
She had the biggest game of her young career against Nicholls with 23 points to go along with seven threes, tying a school record. Amazingly, 20 of those points came in the first half, as well as six of the threes before the Colonels did a better job guarding her in the final 20 minutes of play.
In each of its first three losses, A&M – Corpus Christi came 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. 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 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. The Islanders were downed by double-digits for the first time this season in a 75-64 defeat by UTA before losing a four-point game to UCA. It was another close loss in the next two matchups, as the Islanders fell to Northwestern State by six and to SFA by seven to keep their average margin of defeat at six at that time.
However, McNeese played a very solid game against the Islanders en route to a 28-point victory, which was the biggest of the season after the first seven losses came by a combined total of 43 points.
It was another tough loss against Nicholls, though, as a heave by the Colonels with 38 seconds left banked off the glass and in to put them up three on the way to a 67-60 win.
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. 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 a year ago.
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 four freshmen. No. 63 in the ESPN Girls Recruiting National Rankings is 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 and 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.
The Islanders will matchup with Southland newcomer New Orleans for the first time with a 4 p.m. game on Saturday in the American Bank Center. Next, A&M – Corpus Christi will face several tough road games, as it plays a season-high four consecutive games away from home.