Women's Basketball hosts 2005-06 season opener against Savannah State

Dec. 12, 2005


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After suffering a heart breaking loss to Florida Atlantic last Saturday, the Dolphins will continue their non-conference schedule with its second game against Savannah State. JU look for a season sweep of the Tigers as the Dolphins open the 2005-06 home season on Monday at 7 p.m. in Swisher Gymnasium. The Dolphins defeated Savannah State, 68-48, on Nov. 26 at Tiger Arena.

Head coach Jill Dunn: Jill Dunn enters her second season as head coach of the Jacksonville University women's basketball program after leading JU to its most overall and conference wins in three seasons, despite the loss of their top two post players. No stranger to the Atlantic Sun Conference, Dunn spent the previous three years helping Georgia State to three consecutive A-Sun Conference titles from 2001-04. Before joining Georgia State, Dunn was the top assistant coach at Miami University (Ohio), during the 2000-01 season. Prior to her one-year stint in Miami, Dunn served as the head coach at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., from 1998-00. In her final season with the program, the Lady Catamounts posted 12 wins which was the most in 15 seasons at WCU and the most ever by a second-year head coach in the Southern Conference. Before being elevated to the head spot at Western Carolina, she was the top assistant coach during the 1997-98 campaign. Dunn's coaching career began at the University of South Carolina, where she was as an assistant coach from 1994-97. Dunn's success began as a player at Georgia Southern, where she was a three-year starter from 1989-93. She earned Second-Team All-Southern Conference honors and led the Lady Eagles to the SoCon Tournament championship game and a berth in the NCAA Tournament as a senior.

A look at the latest action: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter and sophomore forward Ashley Williams combined for 33 second half points, but a last second three-pointer fell short as the Dolphins fell to Florida Atlantic 74-71, to open the 2005-06 Atlantic Sun season on Dec. 3 at FAU Arena. JU erased a 24-point deficit by shooting 52 percent (13-25) in the second half. FAU only managed 29 points in the second half, but made key free throws at the end of the contest. Carpenter led the Dolphins with 25 points after shooting (15 in the second frame), including an 11-of-12 effort from the free-throw line. Williams recorded her second 20-point performance of the season (15 in the second half) after shooting 9-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. Junior guard Nakina Alford also added 10 points and a career-high 10 rebounds.

A-Will get it done: A solid presence is being felt under the basket the past four games and it has been none other than sophomore forward Ashley Williams. The North Florida Community College transfer has made the biggest impact for the Dolphin newcomers in 2005-06 as she has become one of the Atlantic Sun Conference's top scorers. Last week, Williams tallied her second 20-point performance of the year with 24 against Florida Atlantic on Dec. 3. She finished 9-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the free-throw line. Williams has now scored at least 10 points in ever game this season (five). She currently ranks fourth in the A-Sun with 17.6 points per game, leads the conference with a .708 field-goal percentage and is seventh with 7.6 rebounds per game. Williams posted a season and team-high 27 points (12-of-14 from the floor), nine rebounds, four steals and blocked shot in a 98-60 loss to USF on Nov. 23. Williams accounted for nearly half of the Dolphins' offense as she continually scored in the low post against taller defenders, including a game-high 13 points at the half. Against Savannah State, Williams poured in 15 points, eight rebounds and a steal to help lead the Dolphins to a 68-48 win at Tiger Arena. For the week, Williams averaged 21 points, while shooting 77.3 percent from the floor (17-22), 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 0.5 blocks.

Sheena, Basketball Princess: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter has come alive in 2005-06 after adjusting to a new squad and a different offensive strategy. In one contest over the weekend, Carpenter narrowly led the Dolphins to their first win to open Atlantic Sun Conference play after falling in a 24 point hole to Florida Atlantic. In the first half, she led JU with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field as the Dolphins trailed 45-26 at the half. In the second frame, Carpenter was a catalyst for a Dolphin rally as JU used runs of 15-3 and 19-7 to pull within three points with 12 seconds remaining. Carpenter led the offensive assault by finishing with a career-high 25 points and nine rebounds, including a career-high 11-of-12 effort from the free-throw line. The most amazing aspect of her performance was the constant hard fouls she took going to the basket and the array of outside jumpers she made with defenders in her face. Carpenter is currently fifth in the conference in scoring (15.8 ppg), sixth in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and eighth in assists (3.40 apg).

Taking care of the ball: One of the staples of improvement for the Dolphins last season was turnover margin. Last season, JU averaged 17.1 turnovers per contest, compared to 19.0 by its opponents. The Dolphins' turnover margin (+1.89) ranked second in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Florida Atlantic (+2.14) and Troy (+1.07) were the only other members to post a positive turnover margin on the year. That trend has changed in the early part of the 2005-06 season. The Dolphin's inexperience is showing up on the stat sheet as JU is averaging 24.0 turnovers per contest, compared to 18.2 by their opponents The following is the average turnovers per contest in JU history:

1999-00: 25.1 2000-01: 23.3 2001-02: 28.2 2002-03: 25.7 2003-04: 19.7 2004-05: 17.1

JU in the A-Sun: Individually, sophomore forward Ashley Williams is fourth in scoring (17.6 ppg), eighth in rebounding (7.6 rpg) and first in field goal percentage (.708). Senior guard Sheena Carpenter is currently sixth in the conference in scoring (15.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg) and eighth in assists (3.40 apg).

Dolphin notables Against FAU, senior guard Sheena Carpenter led the Dolphins with 25 points (15 in the second frame), including an 11-of-12 effort from the free-throw line. Sophomore forward Ashley Williams recorded her second 20-point performance (24) of the season (15 in the second half) after shooting 9-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. Junior guard Nakina Alford also added 10 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. JU shot 28-of-35 from the free-throw line (.800) and scored a season-high 45 points in the second half.

Injuries continue: No matter what the year, it seems that injuries are the center of attention for the JU women's basketball program. Last season, injuries took their toll on the Dolphins' post players when center Kara Donnell had missed the first half of the year while recovering from a knee injury in the preseason. After suffering another setback in her first practice, she is out indefinitely. Forward Yolisha Jackson has missed 17 games when she reinjured her left knee against Mercer on Jan. 6. This year, sophomore guard Crystal Ayers will miss the entire season due to surgery on her right knee. Ayers was penciled in to start at point guard after transferring from Okaloosa-Walton Junior College. Junior forward Talia Johnson has also missed the first three games of the year with a knee injury. She will be out indefinitely. Johnson was the Dolphins' most experience post player heading into this season.

In select company: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter became only the second Dolphin in program history to be named to the preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference team in November. She joins former forward Kat Sungy, who earned the honor prior to the 2001-02 season. Last season, Carpenter was the focal point for the Dolphins offense despite the squad being beset by injuries to the post. Since taking over the point guard position as the playmaker for the offense, Carpenter averaged 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest. Carpenter led the squad with an average of 14.4 points and 3.4 assists, while also shooting 40.9 percent from the field. In the A-Sun, Carpenter ranked sixth in points (14.4 ppg), assists (3.37 apg) and assist/turnover ratio (0.93) and sixth in free-throw percentage (.764). In the Dolphin career record book, she is fourth in points (622), fifth in assists (157) and third in free throws made (121) despite playing in only her second season with the program.

A couple of returners: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter was named to the Preseason All-Atlantic Sun Conference Team. Carpenter, who is the first Dolphin to be selected for the honor since forward Kat Sungy in 2001, joins Stetson guard Nefertiti Walker (Preseason Player of the Year), Florida Atlantic guard Shontavia Williams, Gardner-Webb guard Sequenta Blackman and Gardner-Webb forward Shameka Smith. Carpenter, the squad's lone senior, led the Dolphins with an average of 14.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. Her points and assists per game ranked sixth in the Atlantic Sun Conference, while also finishing sixth with a 0.93 assists-to-turnover ratio. Also rounding out the returners for the Dolphins are junior guard Nakina Alford, junior center Talia Johnson and junior guard Jenaire Davis.

The land of opportunity: Not only is JU attempting to make a name for itself with its performance on the floor, several former players and coaches have gotten opportunities to advance their careers after spending time with the program. Brenda Mock Kirkpatrick, an assistant coach last season with Dolphins, was hired for the same position at Charlotte on May 25. Rebecca Montz and Yolisha Jackson, who each finished their JU careers last season, were hired as graduate assistants at Centenary College and Kennesaw State, respectively.

And a few new faces: Leading the infusion of youth for the Dolphins this season will be five freshmen and two junior college transfers. During their prep career, the class combined to win three state titles, six regional championships and 16 district crowns, while also combining for a 305-57 overall record. Forward Kelly Ford (University Christian), guard Virginia Gregoire (Deerfield), guard DaVina Hamilton and guard Regina Omoite (North Miami Beach) and center Precious Robinson (Orlando Christian) make up the incoming freshmen. Guard Crystal Ayers (Okaloosa Walton JC) and forward Ashley Williams (North Florida CC) will join the squad as transfers.