Women's Hoops hosts vital game against Lipscomb on Thursday

Feb. 22, 2006


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After moving into a three-way tie for seventh in the A-Sun Tournament standings with a win over North Florida, the Dolphins women's basketball team (8-15, 5-11 A-Sun) faces a crucial head-to-head contest with Lipscomb (6-17, 5-11) on Thursday at 7 p.m. JU will complete its weekend against Belmont for the 2005-06 home finale at 1 p.m. Senior guard Sheena Carpenter will be honored for her contributions to the program on Senior Day. The Dolphins, who are currently tied with Lipscomb and Stetson with four games remaining, has recorded the second most wins in program history (13 - 2000-01).

In the previous meeting: Sophomore forward Ashley Williams tallied her second consecutive double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but the Dolphins could not overcome poor shooting from the field as the JU women's basketball team fell to Lipscomb, 70-58, Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena. JU held a 16-23 turnover advantage but shot 25.8 percent (8-31) in the first half. Lipscomb was lead by Miriam McAlister's 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals.

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: Freshman Regina Omoite tallied a game-high 15 points, including four free throws in the final 22 seconds, to lead the Dolphins to a 56-51 win over cross-town rival North Florida, on Feb. 20 at Swisher Gymnasium. Senior guard Sheena Carpenter finished with 12 points, five rebounds and two steals to go along with a season-low zero turnovers. Sophomore forward Ashley Williams finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals, while junior guard Nakina Alford and freshman forward Kelly Ford each added eight points.

Dolphin notables: With four games remaining, the Dolphins have an opportunity to finish with double-digit wins for only the second time in program history (1998-present). Senior guard Sheena Carpenter is 68 points away from becoming the third Dolphin to score 1,000 career points (Kat Sungy, Yolisha Jackson). Sophomore forward Ashley Williams is 13 points shy of the program single-season point record. In the contest against North Florida, it marked the first women's basketball game to be televised at Swisher Gymnasium.

Dolphin vying for A-Sun spot: The Dolphins are currently tied with Stetson (5-11) and Lipscomb (5-11) for the final two spots of the Atlantic Sun Tournament. JU is in search of only its second postseason appearance (2000-01) since the program began in 1998-99. The winner of the the JU/Lipscomb contest will regain a single position with three games remaining.

* JU will complete the season against Lipscomb (5-11) and Belmont (14-2) before ending with road games against Mercer (8-8) and Stetson (5-11).

* Lipscomb will play on the road against JU (5-11) and North Florida (7-9) before completing its season at home against Belmont (14-2) and Florida Atlantic (13-3).

* Stetson will travel to Kennesaw State (3-13) and Belmont (14-2) before ending the season at home against North Florida (7-9) and JU (5-11).

Where there's A-Will...: Sophomore forward Ashley Williams was named Atlantic Sun Conference Women's Basketball Player of the Week on Feb. 7 after leading the Dolphins to a pair of wins and the program's first three-game home winning streak since 2002-03. Williams became the first Dolphin to receive the A-Sun weekly honor since forward Yolisha Jackson on Feb. 22, 2002. Williams scored 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field to help the Dolphins defeat Kennesaw State on Feb. 4. She has now tallied eight 20-point performances on the year. In A-Sun play, Williams ranks fifth in scoring (16.9 ppg), second in blocked shots (2.31), third in free-throw percentage (.831) and fourth in field-goal percentage (.530). Overall in the conference, she is fifth in scoring (16.8 ppg), first in blocks (2.13 bpg), second in field-goal percentage (.550), fourth in free-throw percentage (.800) and fifth in rebounds (7.8 rpg). Williams tied a program record with 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. She also tied the program record with 19 rebounds (Kat Sungy) against Savannah State on Dec. 12 and six blocks (Millica Milijkovic) at Campbell on Feb. 2. Williams is currently 13 points shy of breaking the program record for single-season points (399), which was set by Yolisha Jackson in 2001-02.

I wish I were a Carpenter: Senior guard Sheena Carpenter has begun to heat up at the end of the season by reaching double-figures in points in 10 of her last 13 games, including two 20-point performances. Against Kennesaw State, she led the squad with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor. In A-Sun play, Carpenter ranks seventh in points (14.6 ppg) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.773). Overall in the conference, she is seventh in scoring (13.5) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.742) and eighth in rebounding (6.7 rpg). In the JU career record books, she surpassed Lexie Richards (191 - 1999-04) as the all-time assist leader at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 12 and is currently sitting at 218. She is also third in points (932), rebounds (431) and free-throws made (204) and fourth in steals (74). Carpenter needs 68 points in her final five games to become the third Dolphin to reach 1,000 career points (Kat Sungy, Yolisha Jackson).

Regina O-Mighty: Freshman guard Regina Omoite (Oh-MITE) has started 16 of 23 contests this season as the squad's lone pure point guard, but she has made the most impact coming off the bench. Omoite led a bench squad, which outscored North Florida 25-16, by scoring a game-high 15 points on 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc and a career-high 9-for-9 effort from the charity stripe in 20 minutes. Four of those free-throws came in the final 30 seconds with the Dolphins clinging to a three point lead. In 23 starts, Omoite is averaging 5.8 points, 2.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 3.7 turnovers and a +0.7 assist-to-turnover ratio. Including in those stats is a 26.6 three-point field goal percentage (17-64) and a 57.1 percent clip from the free-throw line (8-14). In seven games off the bench, she is averaging 7.9 points, 2.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 3.0 turnovers and a +0.9 assist-to-turnover ratio. She is also shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc (6-15) and 87.5 percent from the charity stripe (21-24).

Sacre blu: Freshman forward Virginia Gregoire (Greg-WAH) has slowly become an X-factor for the Dolphins in the past 12 games. With each game, she is gaining more confidence in her quickness and is getting to the basket on a regular basis. She tallied a season-high 18 points in a win over Bethune-Cookman on Dec. 29 and has eclipsed the double-digit mark in points on five occasions. Gregoire has also been a terror on the boards by collecting a season-high 13 at Gardner-Webb on Jan. 12 and has posted double-figures in three games. In the Dolphins' last 12 games, in which they are 5-7, Gregoire is averaging 6.2 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 steals per contest.

Blue collar effect: Freshman forward Kelly Ford had been forced into major minutes due to the absence of senior center Talia Johnson for 17 games and the effects are starting to show. A hard-nose defender and rebounder, Ford has improved on her offensive skills and is becoming a formidable player under the basket. Ford tallied a season-high 12 points at Campbell on Jan. 14 and had only scored more than five points on one other occasion prior to that. In her past five games, she has surpassed five points three times, including an eight point effort (4-of-5 shooting from the floor) in a win over North Florida on Feb. 20.

An interesting trend: The Dolphins are powered by the dynamic duo of senior guard Sheena Carpenter and sophomore forward Ashley Williams. But JU has only been successful in the win column when the supporting cast jumps to the forefront. In 15 losses this season, the scoring average leaders are as follows: Williams (15.9 ppg), Carpenter (14.4 ppg), junior guard Nakina Alford (6.5 ppg), freshman guard Regina Omoite (5.9 ppg) and freshman guard Virginia Gregoire (5.9 ppg). Also to be added in the equation is an average of 1.9 assists per game by Omoite. In eight wins, the scoring average leaders are as follows: Williams (18.5 ppg), Carpenter (11.8 ppg), Alford (10.0 ppg), Gregoire (8.8 ppg) and Omoite (7.4 ppg). During that span, Omoite is averaging 3.4 assists per game.

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. The Dolphin's inexperience showed up on the stat sheet as JU averaged 21.7 turnovers compared to 17.1 by its opponents in the first 11 games of the season. In the last 11 games, JU is averaging 16.7 compared to 21.1 by its opponents. Currently, the Dolphins are averaging 19.2 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: In conference play, the Dolphins are currently second in free-throw percentage (.715) and blocked shots (4.62) and fifth in offensive rebounds (14.31 rpg). In A-Sun play, sophomore forward Ashley Williams ranks fifth in scoring (16.9 ppg), second in blocked shots (2.31), third in free-throw percentage (.831) and fourth in field-goal percentage (.530). Overall in the conference, she is fifth in scoring (16.8 ppg), first in blocks (2.13 bpg), second in field-goal percentage (.550), fourth in free-throw percentage (.800) and fifth in rebounds (7.8 rpg). In A-Sun play, senior guard Sheena Carpenter ranks seventh in points (14.6 ppg) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.773). Overall in the conference, she is seventh in scoring (13.5) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.742) and eighth in rebounding (6.7 rpg). In A-Sun play, freshman guard Virginia Gregoire is eighth with 2.7 offensive rebounds per game.

Injuries no longer a factor: No matter what the year, it seems that injuries are the center of attention for the JU women's basketball program. But recently, the injuries have subsided and the Dolphins are getting to full strength in the final weeks of the season. 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 center Talia Johnson missed 17 games (Nov. 23-Feb. 4) this year with a knee injury and before returning to the lineup on Feb. 9 at East Tennessee State.

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 Jenarie 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) make up the incoming freshmen. Guard Crystal Ayers (Okaloosa Walton JC) and forward Ashley Williams (North Florida CC) will join the squad as transfers.