TALLAHASSE, Fla. – Playing quality basketball through the final horn, the Jacksonville University women’s basketball team opened the 2013-14 season with a 69-64 loss to Florida A&M on Saturday afternoon. Freshman guard Sherranda Reddick dazzled in her collegiate debut, leading all scorers with 26 points including 6-9 shooting from behind the arc.
“We definitely played with effort,” said Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “There were some nerves in the beginning that made us have a few unforced turnovers. However, we pushed the ball in transition and rebounded well … It’s no surprise that Sherranda was able to come in and make plays. She is a gamer and plays hard on both ends of the floor.”
Sophomore guard Queen Alford contributed with 13 points and seven rebounds for the Dolphins. Senior guard Stephanie Edwards finished with eight points, four steals and five boards while freshman forward Kimberly Dawkins provided eight points and six rebounds.
Three Rattler players finished in double-digits. Jasmine Grice led her team with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists. Taneka Rubbin chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds and Adenike Dawodu added 10 points.
After the Lady Rattlers jumped to a quick 5-0 lead, Reddick came off of the bench to push the Fins to a 7-0 run which gave the team their first advantage of the game.
Creating on turnovers, Edwards stole the ball from FAMU to find senior forward Jade Cargill on a fast break layup. On the ensuing play with 9:41 on the clock, Edwards again pressured the defense for a steal and this time rewarded herself with a basket on a runner up the middle to give the Fins a 18-15 cushion.
The remainder of the period was evenly paced as both teams battled in what would result in nine first period ties.
Six seconds remaining in the first half and down by a point, senior guard Ronisha Mitchell converted on a midrange jumper to give the Fins a 34-33 lead at the half.
The Dolphins started the second period with possession of the ball but were unable to score in the first six minutes. While both teams struggled to find their shot, FAMU was able to gain a slight three point lead on a jumper from Rubin and free throw from Alicia McCray (14:37). Edwards broke the Fins offensive hush with back-to-back layups, 38-37.
JU had 21 offensive rebounds on the night and a board and put back from Dawkins tied the game at 47 with 8:29 remaining. Dawkins also went on to give the Dolphins their largest lead of the night, 52-47, on a power move to the rim (7:33).
Tying three times in the final four minutes, the teams were last knotted at 64 with 2:07 left to play. Fouled by Edwards after banking a lay-up, Kimberly Sparkman moved the Rattlers up, 67-64, on the and-one play. JU tossed up two shots in the final 30 seconds but were unable to score as the Rattlers secured the win, 69-64.
Turnovers proved to be the difference maker. The Dolphins had 12, compared to FAMU’s five, in the second half and the Rattlers scored 13 points on those turnovers.
“It came down to us valuing possessions and getting stops defensively,” continued McCuin. “That is something we have been honing on in practice and something we will continue to work on as the season progresses. The effort and will to win was there and we showed some things we can build on.”
The Dolphins move on to play Southern Florida on Wednesday, Oct. 13 in a 7 p.m. tipoff.