Powered by four players in double figures and a staggering plus-31 rebounding margin, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's basketball team put on a dominating performance in a 77-61 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday night in the Dugan Wellness Center.
After scoring 11 points in the first period, the Islanders (6-10, 2-3) posted three consecutive quarters of 20 points or more, a feat never accomplished before in school history.
"I didn't think that we came out with the right anticipation or enthusiasm to start the game," head coach Royce Chadwick said. "We made a couple of substitutions that brought us some energy, which then turned into steals. Our defense started to open up our offense. From that point on, we played with a lot of heart and passion the rest of the game."
Brittany Mbamalu recorded her first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The redshirt-junior out of Houston helped her cause with 1:27 to play in the first. Missing a short layup, Mbamalu grabbed her own rebound, put it back up, missed, snagged another board, could not convert on the ensuing shot, brought down her third straight offensive rebound and buried the final layup.
"That first quarter sequence definitely helped me out," Mbamalu said. "It served as a momentum boost for me. I think that gave our team some energy to use the rest of the game. We knew that we would not be stopped if we played hard."
Emma Young paced the Islanders with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Dae Dae Evans and Tiara Matthews added 13 and 10 points, respectively.
"The thing that was working for me the most was Coach (Roxanne) White," Evans said. "She kept reminding me to take a breath and slow down on the court. I did that and everything fell into place for me. The lane opened up, and I took advantage of what they gave me to get to the rim."
Entering Wednesday night's contest, the Islanders were focused on shutting down Southeastern Louisiana (3-13, 1-4) guard Taylin Underwood. She came into the game averaging 25.8 points per game in Southland Conference action. Against the Islanders, Underwood had no answer to the Blue and Green's defenses, going 4-of-21 from the floor, 0-for-8 from deep, and finished with eight points.
The Islanders shook off a rocky start to the game, trailing by five after the first quarter. Defense turned to offense for the Blue and Green as Mbamalu and Emma Young both scored breakaway layups off steals to open the second quarter. Their outburst contributed to 10 straight points, as part of a 25-9 run for the hosts to close out the half.
For the second straight game, the Islanders held off a second-half run by an opponent. The Lady Lions started the third quarter by cutting the A&M-Corpus Christi lead to four.
Matthews and Young stepped up for the Blue and Green, scoring the next 13 points for the Islanders, before A&M-Corpus Christi extended its lead to 20 late in the fourth quarter on layup from Ashanti Plummer.
DOMINATING THE GLASS
>> A&M-Corpus Christi won the rebounding battle 52-21.
>> The plus-31 advantage is the set the school record for rebounding margin in a game.
>> All nine players who played more than five minutes grabbed a board, led by Mbamalu with 10. Matthews and Young chipped in 9 and 8, respectively.
>> The 52 rebounds were the 22nd most in a single game in program history.
"I thought that our players went out and took the scouting report to the floor," Chadwick added. "We did a good job of shutting down a good offensive team, but we had to rebound after we play defense. Our guards (Young and Mbamalu) led us in rebounding, which means that the posts were doing their jobs and blocking out."
SPREADING THE WEALTH
>> The Islanders put four players in double figures for the second time this season.
>> 10 Islanders reached the scoring column, including six with six points or more.
>> Much of the offensive success was attributed to making the extra pass, as Camesha Davis, Mbamalu and Young racked up three assists apiece.
TOP PERFORMANCES ALL AROUND
>> Wednesday night provided a chance for several Islanders to set new career highs.
>> Young, Evans and Matthews had career highs in scoring.
>> Mbamalu, Young and Matthews pulled town new career bests on the boards. The latter is now averaging 5.2 rebounds per Southland game.
>> Davis matched her best mark of the year with three dimes.
>> A&M-Corpus Christi was 51-percent from the field, which was the highest mark since Jan. 17, 2015 at Nicholls.
>> Getting to the line paid dividends for the Blue and Green with a new season-high 23 made free throws.
BACK TO THE BANK
A&M-Corpus Christi returns to the hardwood on Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader with Islanders Men's Basketball against Central Arkansas. Tip for the women's game will be at 4:30 p.m. at the American Bank Center.
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