Women’s hoops falls to ETSU, 86-77
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton tallied a game-high 19 points and junior forward Crystal Grable added a double-double but the Dolphins could not withstand a hot shooting second half by the Lady Bucs as the JU women’s basketball team fell to ETSU, 86-77, Saturday afternoon in Memorial Center.

JU (5-7, 1-2) shot 44.2 percent in the first half to lead by as many as 15 points and entered the half with a 45-37 lead at the break.

ETSU (4-6, 2-1) increased its winning streak to four games over the Dolphins by shooting a game-high 46.4 percent (including 50 percent in the second half), while also winning the rebounding margin (49-38) and connecting on 17-of-21 shots from the foul line.

Leading 59-55 with 13:18 remaining, ETSU held JU scoreless for four minutes to fuel a 13-2 run and take a 68-61 lead on a pair of free throws by Latisha Belcher (9:09). JU would pull to within four points (70-66) with a jumper by Hamilton (7:13) but the Dolphins would get no closer as ETSU would not slow down offensively.

“We came out firing on all cylinders in the first 10 minutes but we let them find a rhythm before the half,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “In the second half, they started getting easy shots under the basket and got opportunities at the free-throw line. ETSU is too good of a team at home to allow any kind of momentum and we just could not find a way to slow them down.”

Hamilton led five Dolphins with double-digit scoring after connecting on 8-of-15 shots from the floor while also collecting five rebounds and three steals. Grable tallied her first career double-double with 10 points and career-high tying 11 rebounds. Senior guard Virginia Gregoire (11 points), junior guard Courtney Jackson (11 points) and junior forward Desarae Johnson (10 points) rounded out the JU scoring.

Latisha Belcher tallied a game-high 19 points to lead the Lady Bucs while TaRonda Wiles chipped in with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Tara Davis (14 points) and Gwen Washington (11 points) rounded out the top scorers for ETSU. In the first half, JU took advantage of seven early turnovers by the Bucs to open a 13-6 lead with a steal and layup by Gregoire (15:53). The Dolphins increased the margin to 21-6 by capping off a 15-0 run with a three-point play by Gregoire (14:17). ETSU used a 20-9 run to cut the deficit to 30-26 with a three-point play by Latisha Belcher (7:18) but JU answered with a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 37-26 on a 3-pointer by Gregoire (6:17).

The Bucs came back again with a 6-0 run to cut the margin to 37-32 (3:30) but a jumper by Hamilton and back-to-back 3-pointers by Jackson put the Dolphins up 45-35 with 2:03 left. ETSU got a pair of free throws by Natalie Pickwell with 30 seconds remaining to make it a 45-37 JU lead at the half.

JU will complete the weekend at USC Upstate on Monday at 5 p.m. The contest is the first of a scheduled doubleheader with the JU men’s team and can be seen live on A-Sun.TV.