Bench squad leads women’s hoops to 61-54 win over Mercer
Freshman forward Taneskei Richardson
Freshman forward Taneskei Richardson
Freshman forward Taneskei Richardson finished with a career-high 15 points after her put back with 41 seconds remaining and the Dolphin bench contributed 40 points to lead the JU women’s basketball team to a 61-54 win over Mercer, Saturday afternoon at the University Center.

JU (13-10, 9-5), which won its sixth straight game over the Bears and its third straight at the University Center, shot a game-low 32.8 percent but connected on 17-of-23 free throws and 11 second chance points.

Mercer (12-10, 8-5) won the rebounding battle (42-40) but committed a game-high 23 turnovers which led to 21 points for JU.

With the score tied (54-54) with 59 seconds remaining, Richardson gathered a missed 3-pointer by senior guard DaVina Hamilton and connected on the put back to give JU a 56-54 lead with 41 seconds left.

Mercer could not convert on its next two possessions and were forced to foul with 17 seconds left. The Dolphins got four free throws from senior guard Regina Omoite and a free throw by Hamilton to seal the game.

“Our bench came up big for us tonight and Taneskei made several huge plays down the stretch,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “We had to fight through another cold spell but our defense tightened up and gave us a chance to make a play. This was a great week for us and now we need to apply this focus and effort on our home court.”

Richardson connected on 7-of-10 shots from the floor while also grabbing a team-high seven rebounds. Senior guard Virginia Gregoire tallied 13 points off the bench (6-of-6 from the free-throw line) while Omoite rounded out the Dolphin scoring with 12 points (7-of-8 from the charity stripe). Sophomore center Lynsey Paschal chipped in with eight points and four rebounds off the bench.

Dominique Chism led the Bears with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field while adding a game-high eight rebounds. Natasha Doh added 14 points and five rebounds while Courtney Ford chipped in with 11 points.

Leading by as many as 10 points (45-35) at the 13:14 mark of the second half, a seven minute scoring drought by the Dolphins fueled an 11-0 Mercer run in which the Bears took a 50-48 lead on a jumper by Ford (4:59).

JU answered with a 6-2 run to take a 54-52 lead after a three-point play by Richardson with 2:42 remaining. Both teams went scoreless for the next two minutes until a jumper by Chism evened the contest (54-54) with 59 seconds left.

In the first half, Mercer jumped out to an early 13-4 lead after a desperation 3-pointer by Chism to beat the shot clock (14:10). JU answered back with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 13-12 with a pair of free throws by Omoite after a technical four was called on Mercer head coach Janell Jones (11:42).

The Bears increased their lead to 18-14 with a free throw by Doh (10:05) but the Dolphins used a 7-0 run to open up a 21-18 lead with a free throw by senior guard DaVina Hamilton (6:59). After another desperation 3-pointer to beat the shot clock by Mercer tied the game (this time by Lacy Ramon), both teams would trade baskets on the next four possessions.

JU used a quick 5-0 run to take a 29-25 lead with a put back by Paschal (1:25) but the Bears got jumpers by TaShera Lewis (1:05) and Cristin Seymour (30 seconds) to tie the contest for the fifth time in the half. The Dolphins would strike the last blow as junior guard Courtney Jackson’s 3-pointer, with two seconds remaining, gave JU a 32-29 lead t the break.

JU will begin a four-game homestand starting with Campbell on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The contest can be seen live on ASun.TV and is the second of a scheduled doubleheader with the JU men.