Women’s hoops battles but falls in the final minute to UCF, 75-71
Junior guard Courtney Jackson
Junior guard Courtney Jackson

Junior guard Courtney Jackson tallied a career-high 22 points and the Dolphins held a late 10-point lead but second-half foul trouble led to free throw opportunities for the Knights as the JU women's basketball team fell to UCF, 75-71, Monday evening at Swisher Gymnasium.

JU (3-5) held a seven-point halftime lead and increased the margin to 10 points (54-44) with 10:17 remaining in the second half but were outscored 31- 17 to end the contest.

UCF (2-7) only shot .373 in the game but forced the Dolphins into a season-high 25 turnovers and connected on 17-of-21 free throws in the second half, which fueled 50 points for the Knights in the final period.

Trailing by eight points with 8:13 remaining, UCF used a 13-0 run to build a 64-59 lead after a 3-pointer by Amber Kirkpatrick with 4:44 left. JU answered with a 10-4 run, capped by a Jackson 3-pointer, to retake the lead 69-68 with 1:44 remaining.

The Knights answered with a layup by Marshay White (1:11) to make it 70-69 UCF but the Dolphins got a layup by sophomore forward Teneskei Richardson to give JU a 71-70 lead with 52 seconds remaining.

After a long possession, Chelsie Wiley's 3-pointer in the left corner made it 73-71 UCF with 28 seconds left. JU failed to connect on its next possession and was forced to foul with 12 seconds. White connected on the front end of the bonus situation to make it 74- 71 but her next shot missed the mark. As two JU players converted on the rebound, the ball tricked out of bounds to give possession back to UCF. White would connect on one more free throw with six seconds remaining to seal the contest.

"This was a very physical game and I'm happy with the way we hustled and competed as a team," said JU head coach Jill Dunn. "We did a good job on the boards in the first half which limited their opportunities and gave us a chance to get out in transition. UCF's ability to get to the foul line in the second half slowed the game down and allowed them to slowly cut into the lead. Although they had the momentum late, we found a way to come back and give ourselves an opportunity to win. Unfortunately, we couldn't get another break in the final minute."

Jackson connected on 9-of-18 shots from the floor including a 4-for-10 effort from beyond the arc. Junior guard Virginia Gregoire tallied 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting from the field. Junior forward Desarae Johnson added seven points, six rebounds and three blocks. Richardson chipped in with nine rebounds and senior guard Regina Omoite had six assists.

Wiley led the Knights with 14 points as five UCF players scored in double figures. Emma Cannon added 12 points and 10 rebounds while Aisha Patrick finished with 12 points on a game-high 8-of-9 effort from the charity stripe. White (11 points, five rebounds) and D'Nay Daniels (10 points, six rebounds) rounded out the UCF scoring.

In the first half, JU jumped out to an early 15-6 lead (12:26) after using a 9-0 run and the lead would stay at nine for the next four minutes. UCF used a 12-3 run to cut the margin to 18-15 with a pair of free throws by Marshay White (6:04) but JU got a 3-pointer by junior forward Jasmin Coleman and a pair of free throws by Gregoire to make it 23-15 (5:24). Both teams would trade baskets until the Knights used a 6-0 run to make it 27-25 with a jumper by White (1:50). The Dolphins would end the half with a 5-0 run, sparked by a 3- pointer and running jumper by Jackson, to take a 32- 25 lead into the half.

The Dolphins will next compete in the South Padre Island Shootout this weekend in Texas beginning with SMU on Friday at 8 p.m. ET.