KENNESAW, Ga.- Despite conceding a 26-point lead in the second half, the Jacksonville University women’s basketball team kept its composure and squashed a late Kennesaw State rally to welcome the new year with a 74-63 Atlantic Sun victory on Thursday night. With the win, Jacksonville snaps a six-game losing skid and improves to 4-8 (1-0 A-Sun).
“Road wins are huge,” said Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “The middle part of the second half was not what we wanted but we did get big defensive stops and scores when we needed them. The girls just kept working and I’m really happy for them.”
Senior forward Jade Cargill finished the contest with a double-double on 12 points and 10 rebounds while freshman guard Sherranda Reddick led the Fins in scoring with 17 points alongside seven boards and three assists. Sinking 7-of-13 shots from the field, sophomore guard Briona Brown chipped in with a career-high 15 points.
Junior guard Kristina Wells also recorded a double-double as she led Kennesaw with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Bria Young and freshman guard Deandrea Sawyers posted 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Owls won the opening tip but quickly lost possession of the ball on a swipe from Alford. Showing how they command the conference in steals, the Dolphins had a pair of takeaways in the first two minutes of the contest, resulting in five points and a 9-3 lead.KSU would later use an 8-2 run to tie the contest at 11-11 and cap the stretch on a three pointer from Young for the slight 14-13 tip (15:14).
Things began to fall into place for the Fins midway through the first period. Midrange jumpers from Brown and Alford provided JU with breathing room, 23-16, and by intermission the stat line captured a 41-23 advantage including seven Fins with points on the board.
JU’s defense was the highlight of the half as they frazzled the Owls backcourt with nonstop pressure for nine steals and 12 forced turnovers.
Nearly five minutes into the second frame, JU had limited KSU to only two points, 51-25, with 15:22 remaining in the game. However, the Owls refused to lie down on their home court and used a 14-2 run to shorten the 26-point Jacksonville edge to 14 (11:08).
Moments before the final media timeout, Wells pulled the
Owls within nine on a coast-to-coast layup at 7:33. On the following play,
senior center Madison Scott worked the post to regain Jacksonville’s
double-digit bumper. At one point KSU
trailed by eight (5:10) but that would be as close as they could get as the
teams traded free throws over the last five minutes.
“We take this season one game at a time,” continued McCuin. “This win was huge because we had been on a losing skid and anytime you’re not winning, you begin to have self-doubt. The girls really bought in to the game plan. Our focus is now on Mercer and the plan is to come out and execute.”
The Dolphins continue their Georgia travels on Saturday, Jan. 4 in a 2 p.m. contest against Mercer (8-4, 1-0 A-Sun).