BEAUMONT, TX (Islanders Athletics) - After leading by three at the half, Lamar's press was too much for the Texas A&M – Corpus Christi women's basketball team, as it fell 87-72 in the Montagne Center on Saturday.
Coming into the game, the Islanders were only averaging 14.7 turnovers a game, but coughed the ball up a season-high 31 times against the Lady Cardinals. Of those turnovers, 19 came in the second half, which lead to the offensive struggles over the final 20 minutes of play.
Brittany Mbamalu had a huge first half for the Islanders with six threes, before only hitting one in the second half to finish with a team-high 23 points.
Two other Islanders finished with double digits, as Kassie Jones finished with 14 and Jasmine Shaw had 10.
However, the two biggest performances came from the other sideline, as Gia Ayers had 16 points from the free throw line to go along with six field goals for a game-high 30 points. She also had seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals. JaMeshia Edwards also had a huge game for the Lady Cardinals, as she finished with 27 points.
The Islanders controlled the tip, which turned into a layup for Shaw just three seconds into the game. Lamar came right back to score the next 11 out of 12 points, though, to take an 11-3 lead with 17:14 to go.
Mbamalu put an end to the Lady Cardinals' run with her first three of the night, but Lamar answered with one of its own to extend the lead back to eight.
The Islanders came back with a huge run over the next 2:15 to score 12 unanswered points, which included two threes from Shaw to put A&M – Corpus Christi up 18-16 with 12:29 left in the first.
Two free throws for the Lady Cardinals tied the game up at 20, but Shola Adebayo picked a pass off and took it the other way for the layup and Mbamalu hit her second three to put the Islanders back up by five.
The two teams went back and forth over the next several minutes with a Dominique Edwards bucket pulling the Lady Cardinals within two with 6:10 to go in the first.
It was then that Mbamalu hit her third three of the half, while Taryn Gregory followed with a pair of free throws to put the Islanders up seven — their biggest lead of the first half — with 5:14 left in the half.
A pair of buckets for the Lady Cardinals brought them within three, but once again Mbamalu had a response with her fourth three of the game to push the lead back up to six for the visitors at 3:49.
However, Lamar came right back to go on an 8-2 run to tie the game back up at 39. It was back-to-back 5-0 runs for both teams that kept the game tied, with the one for the Islanders including another three for the red-hot Mbamalu.
With the clock winding down in the half, Mbamalu drilled her most impressive three of the half, as a bomb from NBA range hit nothing but net and gave her six threes in the first half. It also resulted in her team heading into the half with a 47-44 lead.
With the six threes in the half Mbamalu it gave her 61 one the season, which moved her into third for most threes in a single season. It also put Mbamalu, who is a freshman, into the career top 10 for threes made by an Islander.
However, the Lady Cardinals turned up the pressure coming out of the half, causing nine turnovers to jump out to a 62-49 lead just over six minutes into the second half.
A Shaw jumper on the baseline and a pair of free throws by Camesha Davis cut the lead back to single digits, but an old-fashioned three-point play for the Lady Cardinals put them back up by 12, leading 65-53 with just over 10 minutes to go.
The pressure from Lamar was just too much for the Islanders, as they failed to pull within single digits again, leading to the 17-point win for the Lady Cardinals.
The Islanders were only able to muster 23 points in the final 20 minutes of play. Mbamalu was also shut down in the second half, making only one three.
They Islanders will finish off their four-game road swing with a Thursday matchup against Incarnate Word at 5:30 p.m. followed by a 1 p.m. tilt with Abilene Christian on Saturday.