Women’s basketball falls short in 53-43 loss to Kansas State
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton
Senior guard Virginia Gregoire had a game-high 15 points as the Dolphins held a halftime lead but cold shooting in the second half doomed the JU women’s basketball team in a 53-43 loss to Kansas State, Friday evening at Swisher Gymnasium.

JU (2-3) shot 42 percent in the first half and held a 28-27 advantage at the break. The Dolphins would hold a one point lead (39-38) with 8:44 left but went scoreless for the next five minutes. KSU (5-0), off to its best start since 2005-06, shot 41 percent in the contest and held JU to only 17 percent shooting in the second half.

The Dolphins scored 15 points off of 20 Wildcat turnovers and tallied 12 second chance points in the contest. KSU won the rebounding margin (41-34) and outscored JU in the paint (22-14).

“We played well for 35 minutes but we couldn’t get our shots to fall at the end of the game,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “We are showing glimpses of how competitive we can be. I’ve been much happier with the way we played this week and I expect us to continue to improve as the season progresses.”

Gregoire led the Dolphins in scoring for the second consecutive game while also tallying two steals. Senior guard DaVina Hamilton added six points while sophomore center Lynsey Paschal grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds. Junior guard Courtney Jackson chipped in with a team-high four assists.

Kari Kincaid led the Wildcats with 11 points after connecting on a game-high three 3-pointers. Ashley Sweat also scored 11 points while tallying two steals. Shalee Lehning added a game-high 11 rebounds, seven points and six assists. Marlies Gipson also chipped in with 10 rebounds, eight points and a game-high four blocks.

In the first half, JU jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after a jumper by Gregoire (17:22) and the Dolphins would increase the margin to 12-4 on a layup by Hamilton (14:42). The Wildcats cut the margin to 12-9 with a 3-pointer by Kelsey Nelson (12:37) and both teams would trade baskets until a 7-0 run gave KSU a 24-20 lead with 3:45 remaining. JU answered with a 5-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by senior guard Regina Omoite, to take a 25-24 lead with 2:15 left. After a trey by Kincaid (1:45) put the Wildcats ahead, 27-25, JU got a jumper by Gregoire with 34 seconds left and a single free throw by Gregoire with two seconds remaining to head into the break with a 28-27 lead.

In the second half, KSU opened with a 7-0 run to take a 34-28 advantage after a pair of free throws by Gipson (17:25). JU answered with a 7-0 run, capped by a baseline jumper by freshman guard Ashanti Williams (13:48), to take a 35-34 lead. Both teams would trade baskets until a layup by Ashley Sweat gave the Wildcats a 38-37 advantage (12:12). The defenses would take over for the next four minutes as neither team scored until a pair of free throws by Gregoire put JU ahead, 39-38, with 8:44 left. From that point, the Dolphins would score only a pair of free throws (Williams – 3:58) and one layup (junior forward Desarae Johnson – 1:19) the rest of the way as KSU outscored JU 15-4 to close out the contest.

The Dolphins will host their first contest at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena on Thursday at 5 p.m. to open Atlantic Sun Conference play against Belmont. The contest, which is offering free admission by the MPS Group and is the first of a doubleheader with the JU men, can be seen live on as part of ASun.TV.