JU women fall in A-Sun final to ETSU

Trailing by five at halftime, the Bucs (20-11) TaRonda Wiles put up 11 of her game-high 15 points in the second to lead the ETSU rally past JU to win the tournament title for the second straight season.

The Dolphins (19-13) see their season come to an end in heartbreaking fashion as Regina Omoite led JU with 10 points.

“Obviously, this is a disappointing way to end the season,” said JU head coach Jill Dunn. “We had a great effort and left it all on the floor today. We never gave up at any point and battled to the final horn.”

The Bucs had two big runs to key their rally. Trailing 33-27, ETSU scored 12 straight points with Evans capping the run with a 3-pointer to put the Bucs ahead 39-33 with 14:09 left.

The Dolphins battled back to take the lead by scoring the next 10 points to take a 43-39 lead, capping the run with a Valerie Jones baseline jumper with 9:38 left in regulation.

But ETSU went on another run, this one a 12-0 spurt as JU went cold for 6:12 as the Bucs built a 51-43 advantage with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

JU had one last ditch effort, cutting the deficit back to three as the Dolphins press was effective in wreaking havoc. The turnovers led to a Regina Omoite’s 3-pointer that cut the deficit to five and Teneskei Richardson’s two free throws pulled JU within three with 38 seconds left.

ETSU did just enough to hold on for the win, hitting 3-of-4 from the free throw line as JU missed its final two shots.

Wiles led three Bucs in double figures as Siarre Evans had 12 points and 15 rebounds while Shannon White had 10 points.

The Dolphins defense held ETSU scoreless for more than three minutes on three occasions as JU used a 9-2 run midway through to take a 28-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Omoite was the only Dolphin in double figures, with Richardson, Desarae Johnson, Courtney Jackson and DaVina Hamilton each had six.

The game also marks the end of the remarkable careers of DaVina Hamilton, Regina Omoite and Virginia Gregorie – the backcourt trio that transformed the JU women’s program from a cellar dweller to title contender.

“It’s going to be very tough to replace those three,” Dunn said. “They have been the heart and soul of our program the past four years and have worked so hard to turn this program around. They are small, but they play so big that you think they are 6-feet tall.”