Late Run Separates Wolfpack in WBB Season Opener

Photo by Chris Baird
Photo by Chris Baird

RALEIGH, N.C. – Taking on a team on the fringe of a top 25 placement in the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Jacksonville University women's basketball team met NC State in its season opener Friday, where a third quarter run allowed the Wolfpack to walk away with a 64-44 decision.

The Dolphins entered halftime trailing by five, 29-24, before allowing a 17-4 run in the third quarter.

Mississippi State transfer La'Karis Salter made her Dolphin debut in the closing minutes of the first quarter, and immediately made her presence felt with a quick-release jumper. The basket pulled Jacksonville within five, 14-9, but action on the opposite end of the floor ran in favor of State's post players.

The Wolfpack concluded the quarter with a 20-10 advantage, with 18 points coming from the paint.

"We lacked a lot of energy," said Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "Their post is really good, and I didn't think that we responded collectively to get stops. There was a lot of one-on-one [in the post], and when you play a team that's dominate in the post like they are, you can't allow that to happen."

"The year we won the championship, we took a beating in the beginning because we were trying to figure it out. That's why we play these types of games -  to get exposed and figure out our strengths and weaknesses."

The Raleigh contingent was introduced to Jasmyn Brown early in the matchup, and her name rang through Reynolds Coliseum the rest of the half. She was fouled on a long-range attempt at the start of the second stanza, and went on to knock down all three free throws to end the Dolphins' double-digit deficit.

All 11 of her points were scored in the first half. Her final trey stamped action at 28-24 with 1:21 remaining before halftime, and the Wolfpack added a point at the charity stripe before entering the locker room.

In an interesting change of events, NC State embarked on a 17-4 run in the penultimate quarter. Junior guard Lindsay John, who transferred in from Tallahassee Community College, scored all of Jacksonville's points during the stretch with a three-pointer (5:37) and a split trip at the line (3:13).

The Wolfpack led by 20 but JU concluded the quarter on a 7-1 run, highlighted by a corner three at the buzzer by Shakayla Nevitt.

JU's closest deficit in the half was a 12-point difference with 8:08 left in the game.  

Kayla Gordon finished the evening with eight points and a team-high nine rebounds while Nevitt added six and four, respectively. In her first career start, sophomore forward Khadijah Brown recorded seven rebounds and two blocks.

Jacksonville welcomes Iona to Historic Swisher Gymnasium Monday for its home-opener. In the last two seasons, JU commands a record of 28-2 on its home court.

Tip-off versus the Gaels is scheduled for 7 p.m.