SAVANNAH, Ga. – The Jacksonville University women's basketball team was itching for its first road win of the season. In their nonconference finale, the Dolphins visited Savannah State where they battled from 10 down to earn a 45-41 victory.
"If there is a way to get a win, that's the way you want to get it – with a fight," said Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. "I'm just proud of our team. They stuck together. Savannah went on a run and we never got away from what got us the lead and that was defense. Kudos to our girls. They were exhausted and still found a way to push through. If we continue to do that and focus on the defensive end, we'll be able to celebrate victories more often."
Jacksonville forced four turnovers to start the contest but were unable to convert the extra opportunities into points. At the first media timeout, the squads had each made one basket from the floor and the Lady Tigers held a slight 3-2 advantage.
Following the break in play, it was Dolphin turnovers that changed the pace of the game. JU was spotless in the turnover category before recording six between the 15:37 and 7:53 marks. The Lady Tigers earned eight points on those mishaps and jumped out to a 16-10 lead. The Fins then suffered a four-minute scoring drought where they posted two points – a jumper by Briona Brown – but closed the half trailing by five, 23-18.
Halftime statistics captured the Dolphins committing three more turnovers than SSU (13-to-8). The key to the frame was in how Savannah State took advantage of JU turnovers. The Lady Tigers earned 15 points on JU mistakes while the Dolphins, having a tough shooting outing, were only able to post one point on SSU turnovers.
JU needed to flex its range a bit to pull within one, 27-26, with 14:42 on the clock. Sherranda Reddick knocked down her second three-pointer of the game at 18:02 and later, Loliya Briggs made it a ball game with her first make from downtown.
The Dolphins were nipping at Savannah State's heels for the next 10 minutes. It's not often the shooting team grabs the offensive rebound on a free throw attempt but Kimberly Dawkins did just that as she muscled her way through four SSU defenders and nearly tied the contest with a layin. Fouled, she was instead rewarded with her own trip to the charity stripe and made it a one-point game, 31-30, where it remained until the 7:16 mark.
Briggs tied the contest at 33-all on a trey and on JU's next possession Kayla Gordon caused a bit of controversy when her shot rolled down the backboard and into the net. One referee ruled that the attempt hit the shot clock while the other awarded the basket. After a brief discussion, Gordon's basket was credited and JU held its first lead since 17:19 in the first half.
Briggs' three-pointer started an 11-0 run and when it concluded the Fins held a 41-33 advantage (3:54). Even with all the momentum on their side, the Dolphins couldn't quiet the home team and gave up an 8-0 SSU run which tied the contest at 41-all with 2:03 remaining. Neither team scored for the next minute until Brown broke the lull with a layup. The score stamped JU's victory and the Dolphins put it away when they forced a turnover and later made Jasmine Norman toss up an errant trey.
Reddick finished the night with 12 points while Dawkins posted nine points with a game-high 12 rebounds.
JU's Atlantic Sun action begins on Saturday, Jan. 10. The Dolphins host intercity rival North Florida at Veteran's Memorial Arena at 1 p.m.