WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 07, 2009
UPDATE: WBB hosts Mercer on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Freshman guard Valerie Jones
Freshman guard Valerie Jones
After ending its road trip on a high note, the JU women’s basketball team (6-7, 2-2) will return home to the friendly confines of Swisher Gymnasium against Mercer (6-6, 2-1) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The contest can be seen live on A-Sun.TV by logging on to JUDolphins.com. JU and Mercer are tied in the all-time series, 9-9, after the Dolphins went 2-0 over the Bears last season. JU has won the last four meetings between the two schools.

Dolphin notables
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton (301) surpassed fellow senior guard Virginia Gregoire (299) for second on the JU all-time assists list...with a win over USC Upstate, JU snapped a seven-game road losing streak and a four-game conference road streak…the last Dolphin win on the road was a 61-48 decision at Lipscomb on Feb. 9, 2008…JU posted more than 70 points in back-to-back games (ETSU, Upstate) for the first time this season…senior guards DaVina Hamilton and Regina Omoite each tallied a career high with six steals against the Spartans to lead JU to a season-best 18…the Dolphins also posted a season-best 22 assists and eight 3-pointers in the contest...freshman guard Valerie Jones scored four points, the first of her collegiate career…junior guard Courtney Jackson led the Dolphins with 16 points after connecting on 4-of-9 3-pointer while also grabbing a team-high eight rebounds…Omoite finished with 14 points, seven assists and five rebounds…Hamilton added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists…junior forward Crystal Grable chipped in with 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and a career-high five assists...freshman forward Teneskei Richardson tied a season-high with eight points and set a season best with three steals.

Taking care of the ball One of the staples of a Jill Dunn program is winning the turnover battles. Now in her fifth season with the program, those numbers are beginning to ring true as the Dolphins set a program low for turnovers per contest last season. In her first year, JU averaged a program-record 17.1 turnovers per contest, compared to 19.0 by its opponents. In year two, the Dolphin’s finished with 18.8 turnovers per contest compared to 19.0 by their opponents. In 2006-07, JU led the A-Sun in turnover margin (+4.80) with an average of 18.3 turnovers per contest. The Dolphins also forced a conference-high 22.2 turnovers per game. Last year, the Dolphins finished the regular season leading the conference in turnover margin (+4.55) and were second in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.88). JU currently averages 16.7 turnovers per contest. JU opponents are averaging 21.3 turnovers per game. This year has followed the same tune as JU averages 17.5 turnovers per contest. Dolphin opponents are tallying an average of 21.5 miscues per game. In the conference rankings, JU ranks second with a +4.00 turnover margin.

JU puts the clamps on
Despite its early struggles to score, the JU defense is among the best in the Atlantic Sun Conference. JU is second in the conference in turnover margin (+4.00) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (.277), third in blocked shots (3.8 bpg), fourth in scoring defense (60.6 ppg), rebounding defense (39.6) and steals (10.1 spg) and sixth in field goal percentage defense (.403). JU has held its opponent to less than 60 points in eight of 13 games and the opposition has shot less than .400 in six of 13 games, including three consecutive games (Belmont, Lipscomb, UCF).

Omoite leads the pack
Senior guard Regina Omoite is in her fourth year directing JU as the floor general and she is solidifying her career as the best in program history. Against Lipscomb Omoite led the squad with 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. It was the third double-double of her career and the rebounding total was also a career-high. She recently picked up the pace against USC Upstate by tallying 14 points, seven assists, a career-high six steals and five assists to lead JU to a season-high 78 points. The four-year starter already owns JU single season records for assists (138) and minutes played (1,090) while also owning the career record for assists (348). In the A-Sun rankings, she is second in assists (4.4 apg) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.68). Omoite is trying to join the exclusive 1,000 point club before the end of the year and is 141 points off the pace. She also has her sights set on other career marks, including 3-pointers, free throws, steals and minutes played. To see where she ranks check out the JU career records on the right sidebar.

Little Rip Hamilton
Senior guard DaVina Hamilton is one of the three members of the senior class and has made a huge impact on the JU program’s recent success. A silent leader who does all of the little intangibles, Hamilton is already second in the JU single season records for assists (126) and steals (67). After struggling early in the season, Hamilton has emerged once again as a top scoring threat for the Dolphins. Against South Carolina, she finished with 16 points to go with five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Against ETSU, she paced the squad with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field while also grabbing five rebounds and tallying three steals. In the week finale against USC Upstate, she finished with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a career high six steals to end a seven game road losing streak for JU. For the week, she averaged 16 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 2.7 assists and 1.3 blocks while shooting 43.2 percent from the floor and 80 percent (8-10) from the free-throw line. Hamilton also has her sights set on career marks, including rebounds, steals and assists. To see where she ranks check out the JU career records on the right sidebar.

Miss Jackson is for real
After a slow start to her junior season, guard Courtney Jackson has emerged as one of the Dolphins’ top scoring threats in the past seven games. Lost in the shuffle of the senior trio, Jackson’s ability to shoot the outside shot and the pull up jumper in the lane also gives opponents headaches. After scoring only 14 combined points in the first five games, she has tallied double digits in six of her next seven games. Jackson starting things off by scoring 12 points against Lipscomb to help JU to its first conference win of the year. She continued her torrid streak by planting a career-best 22 points on UCF by connecting on 9-of-18 shots (4-of-10 from beyond the arc). During the South Padre Island Shootout, she earned tournament MVP honors after tallying 22 points against SMU and 11 points versus IUPUI to lead the Dolphins to the weekend title. She finished her time in Texas by shooting 52.6 percent (10-19) from the floor and 61.5 percent (8-13) from beyond the arc. Last week, she tailed off slightly with eight points at South Carolina but finished with 11 points at ETSU and a game-high 16 points at USC Upstate. Thus far, she leads the team with six double-digit games, two 20-point performances and ranks fourth in the A-Sun in 3-point field-goal percentage (40.4) and sixth in 3-pointers made (1.75 tpg).