Late rally falls short as women’s hoops drops 69-64 contest to USC Upstate
Freshman guard Jessica George
Freshman guard Jessica George
Junior forward Desarae Johnson tallied her second career double-double and freshman guard Jessica George scored a season-high 11 points but the JU women’s basketball team could not finalize a late rally in a 69-64 loss to USC Upstate, Saturday afternoon at Swisher Gymnasium.

JU (11-10, 7-5), which dropped back-to-back home games for the second time this season, won the rebounding battle (53-46) which led to 21 second-chance points but the Dolphins shot a game-low 32.5 percent from the floor.

USCU (10-10, 5-7) snapped a two-game slide by converting 24 JU turnovers into 20 points while connecting on 23-of-33 opportunities at the foul line.

“We did a great job defensively to start the game but our offense couldn’t keep stride,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “In the second half, we got going offensively but our defense had lapses. We did a great job of battling our way back at the end, but we need to work on our consistency.”

Trailing 59-48 with 2:27 remaining, JU used a 16-8 run to cut the deficit to 67-64 after three free throws by senior guard Regina Omoite (who was fouled beyond the arc) with 24 seconds remaining.

After Leslie Daniels missed a pair of free throws, the Dolphins failed on a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left and were forced to foul. Kendra Wallace missed her free throws but JU failed to tie the contest again as another 3-point attempt missed. After another foul, Kolesia Richardson connected on her free throws with two seconds left to seal the game.

Johnson led the Dolphins with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor, a career-high 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. George had her best offensive output after connecting on a season-high three 3-pointers while also adding four assists, four rebounds and two steals in her first collegiate start. Freshman guard Valerie Jones also added a season-high seven points and five rebounds in her first start of the season.

Senior guard Regina Omoite rounded out the JU scoring with 11 points while junior forward Crystal Grable chipped in with eight points, a career-best 13 rebounds and three blocks. Senior guard DaVina Hamilton dished out a game-high six assists to go with eight points.

Courtney Hawkins led the Spartans with 17 points, 10 rebounds and two steals while Wallace also added 17 points. Chelsea McMillan finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks.

In the first half, JU jumped out to an early 10-0 lead after holding the Spartans without a field goal in the first eight minutes until McMillan hit a jumper at the 11:57 mark. Upstate cut the deficit to 15-11 with a jumper by Wallace (6:35) but JU pushed the margin to 21-13 with a jumper by George (5:25). Upstate ended the half on an 11-3 run and tied the contest at the break (24-24) after a jumper by Hawkins with five seconds remaining.

JU will return to the road beginning with Kennesaw State on Feb. 5 at 4:30 p.m. The contest can be seen live on ASun.TV.