No. 6 Islanders shut down No. 7 Privateers in Southland women’s tourney opener

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Bryant paces balanced attack with 18 points to roll to 69-47 victory

KATY, Texas – Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s defense wasted little time in stifling the hopes of New Orleans on Thursday as the Islanders moved toward a chance at redeeming one of the low points of the 2018-19 season.

A 22-7 first quarter was more than enough for the No. 6-seed Islanders to eliminate the seventh-seed Privateers 69-47 at the Merrell Center on Thursday afternoon. With the victory, A&M-Corpus Christi (15-15) advances to Friday’s quarterfinal and a 1:30 p.m. date with No.3-seed and defending women’s tournament champion Nicholls, who handed the Islanders an 85-55 loss on January 23. The visiting Islanders trailed 51-22 at intermission in that contest on their way to what would be their biggest margin of defeat in conference play this season.

“I’m very excited about the way that we played,” said Islanders coach Royce Chadwick. “Hopefully, we’ll be ready to play (Friday).”

Thursday’s win also helped erase the memory of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s 56-54 loss at New Orleans (12-16) on February 16 — a game in which the Privateers rallied from a 19-point deficit.

There would no chance of a comeback for New Orleans, which shot just 20 percent in the first quarter and finished at 27.6 percent (16-for-58). The Privateers had a 55-41 edge on the glass against the Islanders, but committed 25 turnovers that led to 28 points for A&M-CC.

Only senior Shania Woods (6-for-14) managed to connect on more than three field goals for New Orleans, which shot well enough in the third quarter to get within 17 but were never able to seriously threaten the Islanders.

“I don’t think they did anything that we weren’t prepared for,” said Privateers’ coach Keeshawn Davenport. “We just didn’t do a great job of stopping it.”

New Orleans had no answer for the Islanders’ inside game, which outscored the Privateers in the paint by a 36-18 margin. All-Southland third team forward Alexes Bryant was the main beneficiary of A&M-CC’s dominance inside, scoring 18 points while pulling down six rebounds.

“My teammates really got me open and gave me an opportunity to score,” said Bryant.

“That was one of our major keys to defense,” said Davenport. “We just did not do a great job. They did the expected.”

Meanwhile, the Islanders will look forward to proving they are a different team than what they were at Nicholls nearly two months ago.

“That game was in the past,” said Bryant. “We’ve gotten better, and we’re physically and mentally tougher. I think we have a good chance at a victory.”

Added Bryant, “Back then, we really didn’t mesh together. I feel like now we have a feeling of what we’re good at and we know how to use that.”

Chadwick, as usual, nailed the point.

“It’s March,” he said. “You’ve got to go and prove it for 40 minutes. We’re capable of doing a lot of things. When we’ve played together, we’ve shown flashes of what you saw (Thursday). We just put it together and played a complete game.”

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