JU women fall just short of NCAA bid
Dolphins await NIT invitation
FT. MYERS, Fla. – In its second ASUN Conference Tournament Final in three years – and its winningest season to date in program history – the #2 Jacksonville University women's basketball team battled but fell just short in a 68-58 decision to #1 Florida Gulf Coast, Sunday afternoon at Alico Arena.
Following the game, senior Naqaiyyah Teague and junior Jasmyn Brown were named to the ASUN All-Tournament Team. Teague finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Brown posted seven points, two rebounds, two blocks, and an assist.
"It's a tough loss for us. We had opportunities to take advantage of some situations and we just couldn't put enough stops together; we couldn't convert enough on the offensive end," stated head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "If we're going to lose to someone, I'd want it to be to the number one team. Just us getting here, I'm very proud of."
The Dolphins (24-8) played lock down defense from opening tip, forcing three Eagle turnovers in the opening five minutes. A physical game from the start, the atmosphere was exacerbated by chants of "DUUUVAL" toward the end of the first quarter as Jacksonville led 11-10 at the first break.
Junior Shakayla Nevitt sank a three at the 6:24 mark in the second to curb a 6-0 run by the hosts and bring the Dolphins within one, 19-18. FGCU (30-4) extended its lead to five and the Dolphins answered with back-to-back jumpers from junior La'Karis Salter and Nevitt kept Jacksonville within one, 25-24, with 3:28 showing on the clock, but the host Eagles held a 30-28 lead at the break.
Coming out of halftime, the Dolphins sparked a 9-2 run and led by as many as five, 37-32, with 7:38 in the third. FGCU chipped away at Jacksonville's lead, and led 49-41 heading into the final 10 minutes.
A jumper from sophomore Shalonda Neely and a three-pointer from Nevitt brought the Dolphins back within striking distance, 51-46, at the 9:17 mark.
Facing an 11-point deficit with just under five minutes to go, Brown looked to spark a comeback on a three from the left side of the arc with 4:43 showing.
Teague and senior Kayla Gordon each sank a pair free throws down the stretch to bring Jacksonville back within eight, 64-56, with 1:58 to go, but despite their efforts, the Eagles came away with a 68-58 win.
Added McCuin, "I'm proud of our team. This is our most winning season and on the bright side, it's fortunate that we can still play. We'll see where we go in the WNIT and continue to try to represent the university and the program as best as possible. I'm just proud to think that we made history multiple times this season and I look forward to the future."
Jacksonville saw two players – Brandi Buie and Kayla Gordon – reach 1,000 career points earlier in the season, while Gordon became the program's leader in rebounds and later, the only Dolphin in program history to reach 1,000 career rebounds as well. Jacksonville's overtime victory over North Florida in the ASUN Tournament semifinals marked its 24th win of the season – and the second-straight season that the Dolphins set a new single-season record for wins.
Nevitt recorded 12 points for the Dolpphins, while Gordon finished the day with eight points and nine rebounds.
Rosemarie Julien led Florida Gulf Coast with 19 points, while Tytionia Adderly recorded a team-high eight rebounds.
The Dolphins await a bid into the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT); the field of 64 teams will be announced tomorrow evening.
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