Women's basketball uses late rally to barrel over Niagara, 63-59

Dec. 20, 2007

Box Score

NIAGARA, N.Y. - Senior forward Ashley Williams scored 16 of her game-high 18 points in the second half while the Dolphins nailed clutch free throws for the second straight game as the JU women's basketball team defeated Niagara, 63-59, Thursday morning in front of 2,192 screaming middle school children at the Gallagher Center.

JU (9-3), which is off to its best start in program history, finishes 2-0 on its northeast swing by winning the turnover battle (19-13) and connecting on 9-of-9 free throws in the second half to spark a 6-0 run to finish the game.

Niagara (3-8) won the battle of the boards (48-40) but allowed 18 points to the Dolphins' game-high 10 steals.

JU erased a 13-point deficit by tying the contest up (49-49) after a tip in by junior guard Virginia Gregoire with 7:14 remaining. After the contest was tied for the seventh and final time (57-57) with 2:21 left, JU used a 6-0 run to come away with the win.

"We had some trouble with communication with our plays in the first half because of the crowd but it was good for women's basketball to see that many people in the stands," said JU head coach Jill Dunn. "Niagara did a good job of executing but we came up with some big plays. I'm proud of how our team has dealt with adversity because we are in uncharted territory right now."

Williams finished 8-of-10 shooting from the floor in the game after dealing with early foul trouble. She is now nine points shy of setting the new career point mark at JU. Junior guard Regina Omiote tallied 13 points while sophomore center Danielle Gray chipped in with 10 points and five boards. Gregoire added five points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Jennifer McNamee led NU with 16 points, including a 4-of-8 effort from beyond the arc. Erick Harris tallied 11 points and four assists while Rachele Folino added 10 points and six boards. Sarah Wilson grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds to go with nine points.

In the first half, JU jumped out to an early 11-4 lead after a 3-pointer by junior guard DaVina Hamilton at the 16:24 mark. Niagara rallied with an 11-3 run to take its first lead of the game, 15-14, with a 3-pointer by Jennifer McNamee. The Dolphins answered with a 5-0 run to take a 19-15 advantage with a 3-pointer by Omoite but the Purple Eagles rallied to tie the contest with a 4-0 run of their own. Both teams went back and forth until NU ended the half with a 9-0 run, including a buzzer beating jumper by Harris, to give the Purple Eagles a 32-24 lead at the break.

The Dolphins will break for the holidays until returning to action at South Carolina State on Dec. 29.