Playing the third game in three days, the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's basketball team pushed No. 1 seed Central Arkansas to the brink on Saturday afternoon. The Islanders outscored the Sugar Bears in the middle quarters, but UCA bookended the game with a pair of double-digit runs, as the Blue and Green fell 62-44.
The Islanders (14-18) erased a seven-year winless streak in the conference tournament with a pair of victories.
Corpus Christi struggled to score in the first quarter, waiting until the 2:51 mark to record its first basket. Despite the slow start, the Islanders never allowed Central Arkansas (24-4) to create an insurmountable lead.
"We told our team that, to win a championship, you have to do the little things," head coach Royce Chadwick said. "Your response to the bad things that come your way dictates your success. Their run at the start of the game was the margin. I thought we bounced back all night long. It was a character check, and our players continued to bounce back. They never quit."
After falling behind by 13 in the first quarter, the senior class of Ashanti Plummer, Kassie Jones and Camesha Davis rallied with nine straight points to shave the deficit to six at the break.
Jones stepped up with five points in a 7-0 run late in the third, as the Blue and Green pulled within four. Jones made it a three-point game with a perimeter shot at the 7:49 mark of the fourth.
The Lufkin native led the way in scoring for the Islanders for a eighth time this season. Brittany Mbamalu and Uri Jolivette grabbed five rebounds.
Every time Corpus Christi seemed to gain momentum, the Sugar Bears responded in the form of Taylor Baudoin and Maggie Proffitt, who combined to score 38 points, while Kierra Jordan added 10.
UCA went 44.6-percent from the floor compared to the Islanders' 30.9-percent clip, while outrebounding the Blue and Green 43-28. Corpus Christi failed to record a block for just the second time this year.
>> With her 3-pointer at the 3:15 mark of the second quarter, Brittany Mbamalu took over the career record for 3-pointers at 210.
>> The Houston native came into the game tied with Nicole Duncan, who set the record over her four seasons on the Island from 2003-07.
>> Mbamalu has 59 games during her career with multiple makes from downtown.
>> The Islanders' season came to a close as the fifth seed in the conference tournament, including an upset of No. 4 New Orleans, after being selected to finish 10th at the start of the year.
>> Corpus Christi's two wins in the tournament tied the most in program history.
>> The Blue and Green finished first in the league in blocks, fifth in rebounding and rebounding margin and third in scoring defense and opponent field goal percentage.
FOR THE SENIORS
>> The seniors cap their careers on the Island with 61 wins and more than 20 records, including blocks in a single tournament, rebounding margin in a single game and blocks in a single season.
>> Camesha Davis ranks third in school history in blocks and fourth in rebounding.
>> Kassie Jones holds the single-season record for free throw percentage and climbed to second in career free throw percentage.
>> Ashanti Plummer, a vocal leader on an off the court, finished her career in fourth on the career blocks list.
"I believe that anytime you take over something, you want to leave it better than you found it," Chadwick added. "They can feel confident that they are leaving this program in a better place. This group was a part of over 20 school records. They'll always be a part of our family. These young ladies came what we brought them here to do and I'm proud of what they've accomplished."
>> While the senior class is graduating a combined 22.8 points per game, the Islanders have 37.9 points returning next year.
>> Combined, the freshman class already has 57 starts.
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