CORPUS CHRISTI (Islanders Athletics) - The Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team secured its spot in the Southland Conference Tournament on Thursday with a 74-69 win against McNeese State in the American Bank Center.
The Islanders made their final seven free throws in the last 1:19 to clinch their first trip to the tournament in four years. It also notched their seventh consecutive victory. This is the longest such streak since the 2003-04 season.
For the first time since Jan. 30 against Sam Houston State, four different Islanders had double-digit scoring performances. Shola Adebayo led the way for the second time in the last three games, hitting six field goals and six free throws for 18 points.
Ashley Darley tied a season high with 13, while fellow seniors Jasmine Shaw and Brandi Huff each contributed 11. Huff came up just short of a double-double, pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.
Leading the way for the Cowgirls was Allison Bagget who went 9-of-24 from the field for a game-high 24 points. Cecilia Okoye also had a big game, securing 12 boards to go along with 15 points for a double-double.
The Islanders' leading scorer got off to a hot start, as Shaw got the ball following the tip and drilled a three just four seconds into the game. A layup in transition by Brittany Mbamalu followed by a three by Alissa Campanero capped off an 8-0 run to start the game for A&M – Corpus Christi.
McNeese's offensive leader got going though, as Baggett hit two triples and a jumper during a 14-6 run for the Cowgirls to tie the game up at 14 with 13:08 left in the half.
The Islanders then put the pressure on defensively, holding McNeese scoreless over the next four minutes. During that stretch, three different Islanders all scored to push the lead back up to six. However, Baggett hit her third three of half to end the drought for McNeese and cut the lead back down to three with just over nine minutes to go.
Both the offense and defense got on the same page for the Islanders to close out the half, as they went on a 16-4 run to give them a 36-22 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.
This was a huge turn around from the first meeting for the Islanders, as in the game in Lake Charles, A&M – Corpus Christi found itself down 44-25 at the half.
The Cowgirls would not go down quietly though, as they charged out of the half with an 11-0 run to pull within three just two minutes and 48 seconds into the half.
However, the Islanders were able to maintain their lead, despite McNeese cutting their deficit to just one four times over the next nine minutes. A key to A&M – Corpus Christi holding on to the lead over this stretch, was the fact it got into the bonus with 14 minutes left and knocked down seven free throws during this period of play.
The Islanders could only keep the Cowgirls at bay for so long, though, as McNeese took its first lead off a layup by Baggett with 7:43 to play to go up 56-55. The lead was erased quickly, as Kassie Jones came back on the next possession to hit a pair of free throws and put the Islanders back up one.
A Camesha Davis jumper extended the lead back up to three, but the Cowgirls came back to score six of the next eight to take their second lead of the game, going up 63-62 with 3:55 to go.
Darley then went one of two for a line before coming back down to hit a jumper to put the home team back up by two with 3:08 to play. This put the Islanders ahead for good, as the Cowgirls tried to claw their way back, but A&M – Corpus Christi was solid at the line down the stretch to seal the win and secure its spot in Katy.
The Islanders will close out the regular season on Saturday, hosting Nicholls at noon for Senior Day. For tickets, call 825-BALL or purchase them online at GoIslanders.com.
For all the latest on Islanders Women's Basketball, be sure to follow the team on Twitter and Instagram (@IslandersWBB) and like the team's official Facebook page (Islanders Womens Basketball).