Women’s hoops hosts defending champions starting Thursday
The JU women’s basketball team two-game home stand will be tough as it hosts the Atlantic Sun defending champions beginning Thursday.

The Dolphins (7-15, 5-6 A-Sun) take on 2011 tournament champion and current second-place Stetson on Thursday in Swisher Gymnasium at 7 p.m. They wrap the week Saturday with 2011 regular champion and current first-place, trend-setter Florida Gulf Coast at 1 p.m.

Thursday’s contest against Stetson will also be the Dolphins’ annual Pack the House day. The “Pack the House” contest is a national effort in which conferences and institutions compete to build attendance with one winner from each conference receiving awards, while also having the NCAA donate $500 to a nonprofit organization of its choice.

“We are working hard this week to get prepared for the challenge in front of us,” JU head coach Jill Dunn said. “This is an important and I know our team will be ready for it.”

The Dolphins have lost three of the last four games on the road, but their saving grace is a six-game home winning streak.

Since Dec. 15, the Dolphins hold a 73.8-to-63.7 scoring edge in the last six home contests. JU has forced 133 turnovers in those wins and picked up 77 steals. Senior Crystal Bell is leading the Dolphins during this current stretch with 14.7 points a contest, 24 steals and eight blocks. Sophomore Jade Cargill is averaging a double- double (13.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg) during those wins.

The Hatters (18-5, 9-2) head north following wins over Kennesaw State and Mercer to snap a two-game losing skid. Victoria McGowan had 16 points and eight assists to pace three Hatters in doubles-figures against Mercer.

McGowan leads the Hatters in scoring (16.6), assists (114) and steals (70). Shanasa Sanders, a Jacksonville native, is second with a 13.4 scoring average, while Sasha Sims is first in rebounds (7.5) and third in scoring (11.6).

On Jan. 7, the Dolphins had two comeback attempts fall a little short in a 93-86 double-overtime loss against Stetson on DeLand, Fla. Sims (25 points, 10 rebounds), McGowan (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Sanders (22 points, 14 rebounds) each finished with double-doubles to push Stetson’s lead in the all-time series to 15-13.

The Eagles (19-2, 11-0) will be at North Florida Thursday before playing the Dolphins. FGCU beat Kennesaw State, 56-51, on Jan. 28 to claim its first-ever A-Sun Tournament berth.

The Eagles have three players averaging double-digits in scoring, led by Sarah Hansen with a 13.2 clip. Nicoya Jackson is second with a 12.0 average, while Jacobson has 10.9 points a contest. Overall, the Eagles rank first in the A-Sun in scoring offense (75.0 ppg), field-goal percentage (.430) and three-point percentage (.374).

In the first meeting, FGCU secured its eighth straight win in the series with a 74-51 decision on Jan. 9 in Fort Myers, Fla. Elgah Griffin scored 17 points off the bench to pace the Eagles. The Dolphins’ lone win came in the first meeting in the series on Jan. 5, 2008, 62-58, at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

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