FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Jacksonville University women's basketball team won its first-ever Atlantic Sun championship and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament Sunday as sophomore Brandi Buie hit a jumper with three seconds to play to nail down a 56-54 victory over the two-time defending champions, Florida Gulf Coast.
JU (22-10) fought back from a 13-point deficit to make it a one-point game, the Dolphins down, at the 6:24, 4:40 and 1:10 marks of the fourth quarter, before freshman Jasmyn Brown split a pair at the free-throw line to tie the game at 54-all with 37 seconds left in regulation. Buie, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, scored the game-winning basket as time ran down.
"This is surreal," said Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "I'm excited for the opportunity to represent the Atlantic Sun Conference in the NCAA Tournament. We played a complete game. I'm thankful to Dr. Donnie Horner and President Tim Cost for giving me an opportunity, and I look forward to building this JU program to be a perennial powerhouse for years to come."
The Brown sisters flexed range early as they combined for all eight of the Dolphins' points at the first media timeout. On the opposite end of the floor, the visitors limited FGCU to just two points before a pair of three-pointers tied the game at 8-all with 4:21 on the clock.
As two of the top defenses in the conference, it was no surprise the game would be tight. Two baskets separated the sides at the 7:46-mark of the second quarter, and at the half, the Eagles took a 29-22 edge into the locker room.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Reddick ignited at the start of the second, rattling in a layup and a trey to close the Dolphins' gap to 33-29 (7:00). The junior guard picked up her fourth foul on the next Eagle possession, and was forced to sit out the next three minutes. FGCU went on a 7-1 run in the stretch.
Upon Reddick's return, Jacksonville used a 9-0 run, featuring five points by Buie, to end the third quarter trailing, 43-39. The Eagles didn't score in the final 3:29 of the stanza, but sank back-to-back three-pointers early in the fourth.
Jacksonville outscored FGCU, 17-11, in the fourth quarter to seal its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Dolphins will find out who they face in the big dance Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN.