FRIDAY, MARCH 06, 2009
Dolphins advance to the final with 51-49 win over Belmont
Courtney Jackson’s 3-pointer with 31 seconds left capped a furious rally in the final minutes as the JU women’s basketball team tops Belmont, 51-49, to advance to the championship game of the General Shale Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament.

Jackson finished the game with nine points, but her final shot, a 3-pointer in the corner in transition gave the Dolphins the lead for good.

JU’s (19-12) defense was the story late, holding the Bruins (18-13) to four points over the final 6:45 to enable the rally.

The Dolphins will face ETSU in a rematch of last season’s A-Sun title game that saw the Bucs hold off a late JU rally to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. (ET), with the game being televised on CSS, with radio coverage on 1010XL.

“This was a great game and we were fortunate to get enough defensive stops late to win,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “At this time of the year, you just want to survive for another day.”

The Dolphins were led DaVina Hamilton’s 14 points, hitting 7-of-15 from the floor, while pulling down eight rebounds.

Trailing 49-45 with 1:47 left, the Dolphins had their backs against the wall. Desarae Johnson gave JU new life with a layup with 1:04 left to cut the deficit back to two.

After a steal by Hamilton, her second of the game, Jackson launched a 3-pointer from the corner that hit nothing but nylon and gave JU its first lead in more than 12 minutes, 50-49.

The final 30 seconds saw the JU defense at its finest. The Dolphins blocked two shots during that span as Belmont missed its final three shots and had a turnover as JU held on for the win.

JU’s rally stole the show from Belmont’s duo of Jessica Bobbitt and Amber Rockwell. Bobbitt had a game-high 18 points while Rockwell had 13, hitting two huge 3-pointers that gave Belmont its first lead in the second half.

With JU sporting a five-point halftime lead that was quickly extended to seven, Belmont went on a 10-2 run capped by the second 3-pointers of the half by Tereva Moore to take a 32-31 lead with 13:50 left in regulation.

The Bruins grabbed the lead for good when Rockwell hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the last from 26-feet out, to give Belmont a 45-41 lead with 7:52 remaining.

Jackson’s nine points was the second-highest total for JU, hitting 4-of-12 from the floor, and 1-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Despite scoring just two points in the last six minutes of the first half, JU’s 13-4 opening run was enough of a cushion as the Dolphins took a 27-22 lead into the intermission.