JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Kayla Gordon tallied 12 of her game-high 18 points in the first half Saturday, lifting Jacksonville to its third-straight win in Atlantic Sun Conference (A-Sun) play after the Dolphins defeated NJIT, 68-37, inside Historic Swisher Gymnasium in the annual Play 4Kay contest.
Gordon notched her seventh double-double this season and 12th of her career after finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. She was 7-of-10 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.
"We really needed Kayla to come to play," Jacksonville coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said. "It was huge that she showed up at this point in time in the season, and we know we're going to need her."
Saturday's victory, the 10th in 11 home games this year, sets up a showdown Monday at 7 p.m. ET inside Historic Swisher Gymnasium with USC Upstate for the inside track to the No. 2 seed in the upcoming A-Sun Tournament. Each team concludes the regular season next Saturday.
The Dolphins record their seventh win in A-Sun play this season by 20 or more points.
The Highlanders have lost five-consecutive A-Sun games and 18 of their last 19 overall.
Jacksonville (17-10, 9-3 A-Sun), which entered Saturday forcing an A-Sun high 17.5 turnovers per contest in league play, turned NJIT (4-23, 1-11 A-Sun) over 16 times, resulting in 22 Dolphin points, and has forced the Highlanders into 47 miscues in two matchups this year.
"Defensively our girls played hard and got after it," McPhee-McCuin said. "I was pleased with our defensive performance and how we rebounded the ball, so if we can continue to do those things, we should have continued success.
"Today we were playing for something bigger than us with the Play 4Kay initiative. It was such a bigger purpose, and the girls wanted to come out and give their all for that purpose."
The Dolphins shot 54.2 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and staked to a 34-22 edge at halftime.
NJIT shot just 26.1 percent after intermission and did not score more than eight points in either quarter after the break.
Jacksonville's Brandi Buie finished with 17 points on an 8-of-11 effort from the field. Sherranda Reddick added 13 points, while Christin Mercer netted 10 points and eight rebounds. Jasmyn Brown had four assists.
Ronni Grandison ended with a team-high 10 points in the loss.
Jacksonville held a plus-17 margin on the boards, including 16 offensive rebounds that led to 20 second-chance points. The Dolphins outscored NJIT in the paint, 42-22.