THURSDAY, MARCH 08, 2007
Women's Basketball advances to A-Sun seminfinals with 74-61 win over No. 7 Stetson

March 8, 2007

Box Score

DOTHAN, Ala. - GALLERY

Sophomore guard Virginia Gregoire (25) and freshman guard Courtney Jackson (18) finished with career high's in points to keep the Dolphins' record breaking season on track as the JU women's basketball team defeated No. 7 Stetson, 74-61, Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at the Dothan Civic Center.

JU (21-8), which won its first A-Sun Tournament game, extended its program-record winning streak to nine games by shooting 47 percent from the floor (29-62) and dominating the rebounding margin (42-29).

The Dolphins have now won 16 of their last 18 games, including 15 of their last 17 A-Sun games, while also running their record to 15-2 since Jan. 1. JU has also won five consecutive games against the Hatters.

Stetson (5-25) shot 62 percent from the floor in the first half to keep the game within striking distance but saw its opportunities slip away with a six-minute scoring drought in the second half.

"We did a tremendous job of crashing the boards and executive out offense against a tough Stetson squad," said JU head coach Jill Dunn. "We knew the Hatters were going to try and get the ball inside but we forced them to take jump shots and take them out of their game.

"We are a confident team right now and I think we are playing some of the best ball in the conference. Even though we are in uncharted territory, we know we have what it takes to win this tournament."

Gregoire broke her career high of 23 points after connecting on 10-of-17 shots to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Jackson surpassed her career mark of 15 points by shooting 7-fof-17 from the field, including 12 first-half points to go with nine rebounds.

Junior forward Ashley Williams added 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the field. The only bad news for the Dolphins was an apparent hamstring injury to sophomore guard DaVina Hamilton in the first minute of the game. Her status for the rest of the tournament is day-to-day.

"Virginia did a lot of different things that we asked her to do and she performed," Dunn said. "Courtney was huge for us after DaVina went down in the first minute and we would not have won this game if not for her."

Sharnesha Smith scored 17 points to lead Stetson while Kellie Olson added 10 points to round out the Hatters in double-figure scoring. Kim Manning, who played in the final game of her collegiate career, finished with a game-high six assists.

In the second half, JU pushed the lead to 46-34 at the 17:37 mark on a jumper by Williams but Stetson answered with a 7-0 run to make it 46-41 after a jumper by Kellie Olson. Omoite answered the run with a three-pointer to put the Dolphins back ahead, 49-41 at the 15:34 mark.

After a pair of free throws by freshman Crystal Grable made it 51-41 (14:52), both teams traded baskets for the next four minutes until the Dolphins used a 14-8 run to make it 65-49 lead on a jumper by Gregoire with 8:22 left.

Stetson went cold for the next four minutes as the Hatters went scoreless until Smith hit a three to make it 67-52 with 4:58 left. Gregoire put things away with a three to make it 72-56 with 2:48 remaining.

In the first half, JU took an early 12-7 lead after a pair of free throws by Gregoire at the 15:02 mark. Stetson answered with a 5-0 run to tied the contest, 12-12, on a three-pointer by Jamie Nesbit at the 13:28 mark.

After the Hatters tied the contest at 17-17, the Dolphins used a 12-4 run to lead 29-21 after a jumper by Williams with 7:15 remaining. JU pushed the advantage to 36-25 with 4:46 left in the half after a layup by Gregoire.

The Dolphins increased the advantage to 42-28 with 1:49 left remaining after another jumper by Williams. JU took a 42-32 lead into the break after Stetson ended the half with a 4-0 run, which did not include a half court heave by Stacie Shepherd that went through the net but was waived off by the officials after the buzzer.

The Dolphins, which shot had 13 offensive boards in the first frame, had three players score in double-figures in the first half, including 14 points by Jackson.

The Dolphins will next face the winner of No. 3 East Tennessee State/No. 6 Lipcomb on Friday at 9:15 p.m. EST. Check www.judolphins.com to see broadcast information for the contest.