CORPUS CHRISTI (Islanders Athletics) - A late rally in the final seconds capped off with a three-point play by Marquesha Anderson-Sparks with 2.3 seconds lifted the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi women's basketball team to a 60-59 victory over McNeese State Saturday afternoon. It was the 2013 Homecoming game at the American Bank Center as the Islanders snapped an 11-game losing streak to pick up their first conference victory of the season.
The Islanders (2-20, 1-10 SLC) were paced by a balanced team effort to top the Cowgirls (12-11, 7-5). Nine Islanders finished in the scoring column led by Brandi Huff's 13 points. Ashley Darley, Jessica Jammer, Taryn Gregory and Janae Blount each added eight points apiece. Verne'qua Taylor tallied a season-high eight rebounds to lead the Islanders' glass and Jammer chipped in six. The Islanders notched 26 of their 60 points in the paint and 31 points came from the Islanders' bench.
Ashlyn Baggett led the Cowgirls with 19 points while her sister Caityln Baggett chipped in 17 points. The Islanders and Cowgirls each pulled down 39 rebounds in a game that featured six ties and five lead changes.
The Cowgirls' Ashyln Baggett started off the game with a trey before the Islanders put together a 7-0 run to take a 7-3 lead. Gregory got things started with a three of her own and Taylor added a bucket before Jammer added two from the charity stripe. After trading free throws, the Cowgirls built a 10-8 lead on a 5-0 run to push ahead.
Gregory knotted the score at 10 with a jumper before the Cowgirls pushed ahead by two with a couple of free throws. However, Jammer added a free throw and a jumper to give the Islanders a one-point advantage with 9:40 to play in the first half. After a free throw by McNeese State, Darley added a layup to keep the Islanders in front.
The Cowgirls answered with an 8-2 run to take a 21-17 lead with 6:20 to play. After trading baskets, Gregory and Imani Dunn hit back-to-back buckets to even the score at 23. However, Ashlyn Baggett nailed her third three pointer of the first half to pad the Cowgirls lead to three. Taylor added two free throws to cut the deficit to two heading into halftime.
The Cowgirls took a 26-24 lead in the locker room behind Ashlyn Baggett's 15 points. Gregory added seven points and Darley chipped in six. Jammer and Taylor led the glass with four apiece. The Islanders scored 14 of their 24 points in the paint and outrebounded the Cowgirls 21-15 in a first half that featured four lead changes and four ties.
McNeese State opened the second half with a three from Caitlyn Baggett before Jammer trimmed the lead to two with a three-point play. After a 4-0 run by the Cowgirls, Dunn added a three-point play to pull the Islanders within five. After a jumper by Ashlyn Baggett, Blount got on board from three-point land. McNeese State pulled ahead by eight with back-to-back buckets.
However, the Islanders put together an 8-0 run to tie it at 41. Huff, Roberts and Blount all contributed to the run. Caitlyn Baggett followed with a three-point play to put the Cowgirls back in front. After trading free throws, Huff nailed a jumper to bring the Islanders within one. The two teams battled back and forth until McNeese State built a 55-49 lead on a 5-0 run with three minutes to play. Huff pulled the Islanders within three with a jumper and a free throw before Ashlyn Baggett added two from the free-throw line. With the Islanders trailing by five, Blount and Huff both stepped up to the charity stripe to pull the Islanders within one with 13.5 to play. After Caitlyn Baggett tallied two from the line, Gregory added one to cut the deficit to two.
With 2.3 to play, Anderson-Sparks picked up the loose ball off a missed Gregory free throw and was fouled on the layup to tie the game at 59. The junior finished the three-point play and Ashlyn Baggett's three pointer fell short as time expired.
The Islanders will travel to Conway, Ark. on Thursday, Feb. 14, to take on Central Arkansas. Tipoff is slated for 5:30 p.m.
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