WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Jacksonville University women's basketball team dropped a 51-49 heartbreaker to UNC Wilmington early Friday afternoon.
Despite leading for a majority of the contest -- nearly 32 minutes -- Jacksonville committed a turnover in the closing seconds to lead to UNCW's game winner.
Continuing action in the UNC Wilmington Thanksgiving Classic, Jacksonville faces Bowling Green State tomorrow at noon.
"Our players are going to have to want to win games," Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. "Wanting to win doesn't occur in the last quarter or last few possessions. Wanting to win games takes four quarters, 40 minutes, and UNCW just out-toughed us tonight."
After tying the contest at 49-all with 31 seconds left in regulation, Shatia Coleman forced a steal in the Dolphins' frontcourt and rattled in a jump shot to leave nine seconds on the clock.
The Dolphins recorded a pair of offensive rebounds and two shots in the final seconds but couldn't tally the equalizer.
"It didn't have to be the type of game that it was but kudos to UNC Wilmington," continued McCuin. "They are a tough and scrappy team that just wanted it more than us."
Jacksonville never trailed in the first half but there was plenty cause for concern as it led by as much as nine and twice saw its lead dwindle. UNCW tied the contest at 22-all at the break.
A shaky start to the second half allowed Wilmington to record its first advantage of the game. The Dolphins committed four turnovers over a 2:36 span and went scoreless in the stretch, all while the Seahawks padded a 33-25 edge.
Using an 8-0 run to coax the Seahawks into calling a timeout, Jacksonville regained its lead on a steal and score between Mercer and Jasmyn Brown. The Dolphins went on to shoot 45.5 percent from the floor to jump ahead, 38-36, by the end of the third quarter.
The final seven minutes were a battle and while JU's offense ran fairly well, it was the team's defense that kept it in the game. With UNCW pulling within one, 42-41, Briona Brown ran the baseline to find Jasmyn in the corner for a trey (5:30). Tied at 47-all, Loliya Briggs recorded a steal that led to a Gordon layup (2:51) and a block by Briona kept the game knotted until the final 49-49 stalemate.
The contest marked the Dolphins' second nail-biting road matchup. The team faced the University of Texas – Arlington earlier this season where it led the entire way before a buzzer beater settled its defeat.