Women's Basketball continues homestand against Central Michigan on Monday

Dec. 18, 2005


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After winning their home opener against Savannah State last Monday, the Dolphins (2-4) will continue their non-conference schedule at Swisher Gymnasium on Monday at 7 p.m. against Central Michigan (7-1). JU will look to win two consecutive home wins to open a season for only the second time in program history (2003-04). The Dolphins will also look to equal their best start to a season in program history (3-4).

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: Sophomore forward Ashley Williams finished with 24 points, 19 rebounds, six steals and five blocks, while sophomore guard Nakina Alford added a season-high 22 points to lead the Dolphins to a 70-55 win over Savannah State, Monday evening to open the 2005-06 home season at Swisher Gymnasium. JU defeated the Lady Tigers for the second time this season after recording a program-record 13 blocks and 11 steals. Williams led all players in scoring after shooting 8-of-15 from the floor. Alford posted her first 20-point performance of the year after hitting 8-of-16 shots (2-of-7 from beyond the arc) with four rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Freshman guard Virginia Gregoire added 11 points to round out the Dolphins with double-figure scoring.

Hitting the mark: 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 scores. Last week, Williams tallied her third 20-point performance of the year (and second in a row) with 24 against Savannah State on Dec. 12. She finished 8-of-15 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. Williams has now scored at least 10 points in ever game this season (six). She also tied the program record with 19 rebounds (Kat Sungy). Williams currently ranks third in the A-Sun with 18.7 points per game, leads the conference with a .667 field-goal percentage and is fourth with 9.5 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.

Sheena, Basketball Princess: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter has come alive in 2005-06 after adjusting to a new squad and a different offensive strategy. Against Florida Atlantic, Carpenter narrowly led the Dolphins to their first win to open Atlantic Sun Conference play after falling in a 24 point hole. 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. Carpenter is currently eighth in the conference in scoring (13.8 ppg), sixth in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and assists (3.5 apg).

Dolphin notables: Sophomore forward Ashley Williams has tallied at least 10 points in each of her first six games. She has also posted 20-points in three games, including her last two contests. She also tied a program record with 19 rebounds. Senior guard Sheena Carpenter grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds vs. Savannah State. Junior guard Nakina Alford scored 20 points for the first time this season (22) and tallied her first career blocks (2) against Savannah State. Freshman guard Virginia Gregoire tallied a season-high 11 points, and her second 10-point performance of the year, against Savannah State. She also tallied a season-high two blocks in the contest. Freshman guard Regina Omoite dished out a season-high seven rebounds vs. Savannah State. Freshman forward Kelly Ford registered a season-high two blocks vs. Savannah State. Against Savannah State, JU tallied a program-best 13 blocked shots, shattering the previous record of nine.

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 23.8 turnovers per contest, compared to 19.1 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 third in scoring (18.7 ppg), fourth in rebounding (9.5 rpg), first in field goal percentage (.667), tied for fourth in blocks (1.33 bpg), fifth in steals (2.5 spg) and seventh in free-throw percentage (.757). Senior guard Sheena Carpenter is currently eighth in the conference in scoring (13.7 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (8.3 rpg), assists (3.5 apg) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.84). Junior guard Nakina Alford in eighth in three-pointers made (1.83 tpg). Freshman guard Regina Omoite is tied for eighth in assists (3.0 apg) and ninth in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.55).

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.