Jacksonville’s Top 10
Moments of 2013-14: #8
Needing a win to secure one of the top four seeds and a home game in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament the women's basketball team stormed back from a double digit deficit with less than four minutes remaining in the 2013-14 regular season finale. Briona Brown scored nine of her 14 points during a 16-2 game changing run that sealed a signature win in the first season under Head Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin.
It didn't take long for the Jacksonville University women’s basketball team in its first season under new head coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin, to put the rest of the Atlantic Sun on notice. The Dolphins opened with a five-game winning streak to start conference play. Included in that stretch was a 71-67 road win at Mercer in which senior captain Stephanie Edwards hit the go-ahead runner on the heels of a turnover with ten seconds remaining to put an end to the Bears’ four-game winning streak. She considered the win a statement to the rest of the conference, and on March 8, 2014 all eyes were turned to the rematch with a home quarterfinal game in the Atlantic Sun Tournament at stake. Regardless of the outcome, the two evenly-matched teams would be playing each other in the postseason; the question of where had yet to be determined.
Fans packed Swisher Gymnasium to support the Dolphins in their crusade to finish fourth in the Atlantic Sun. The first half went back and forth, with Mercer quickly jumping out to a seven-point lead, only to see Jacksonville surge back with a 21-7 run to take a seven-point lead of its own at 23-16. The Bears responded with a 12-0 run, but a Sherranda Reddick triple inside the final two minutes made it just a two-point Mercer lead at the break, 28-26.
The second half got off to a less-than-stellar start for Jacksonville, with Mercer putting the first six points on the board for a 34-26 advantage. The Dolphins answered back with three points to bring the deficit back to five, but that was countered by a 7-0 Mercer run to give the Bears their largest lead of the game at 41-29. Maintaining that 12-point margin as the clock ticked under the final seven minutes, the Bears had seemed to close the door on Jacksonville’s Senior Day hopes.
“I told the girls that there was a lot of time left in the game,” said McCuin. “All year we worked on situations like these, and one of the situations we work on a lot is being down by 10 points with four minutes left. The girls were able to execute the comeback because they have been put in that situation before.”
Coming out of the final media timeout, two free throws gave Mercer a 61-52 lead. Down on the other end, Jacksonville missed a pair of shots but hustled to grab two offensive rebounds to keep possession alive. It paid off as Briona Brown rattled in a three-pointer in what was a sign of things to come.
After a Reddick block gave possession back to the Dolphins, JU again hit the offensive glass. Reddick corralled the loose ball on a missed shot and laid the ball in while being fouled. The subsequent free throw cut the deficit down to three, 61-58, with over two minutes remaining.
Now it was Brown’s turn again. A Mercer turnover led to a run-out for the Dolphins and Brown let fly in rhythm on the break, splashing in another three to knot the score at 61-61 with 1:52 to play. The next time down, another Mercer turnover gave the ball back to JU once more and Brown – clearly in a zone – hit a third straight shot from long-range to put Jacksonville on top, 64-61, with less than a minute to play.
“After hitting my first trail three pointer, I felt more confident in my shot,” said Brown. “The next two threes were not drawn up plays for me to shoot. I was just in the right spot at the right time, ready and willing to knock down the shots. When I hit my second three in the corner, I was really feeling it then. My teammates were so hyped. Nobody was sitting in their chairs on the bench, they were all up cheering, and the fans were really tuned in as well.”
A rattled Bears team missed a three-pointer on the other end that would have tied it up in the final 30 seconds, and the Dolphins came down to the other end to connect on one of two from the charity stripe. After Mercer went inside for a quick layup, Brown capped her amazing afternoon with two clutch free throws with 11 seconds to go. All told, 11 of her 14 points in the game came in the final three minutes.
“Any win in the conference is vital to the standings and where we would like to be as a program,” continued McCuin. “The win against Mercer was special because it was Senior Night for four of our ladies and the game allowed us to clinch home court for the first round of the conference tournament. The ladies worked hard all year, so for them to be rewarded on Senior Night was a double bonus. We hope to continue to build on wins like Mercer so that we can make our way to clinching an Atlantic Sun title in the near future.”
Jacksonville was originally picked to finish near the bottom of the conference standings and the Senior Day victory allowed the Fins to close the season with the No. 4 seed, an achievement not seen since the 2008-09 campaign. JU’s amazing season wrapped with a 10-8 conference mark, two All-Atlantic Sun accolades and Coach McCuin nominated for the prestigious WBCA Maggie Dixon Rookie Coach of the Year Award.
WHAT THE ASSISTANT COACHES HAD TO SAY
“Coach Yo stresses mental toughness, and our team showed that by weathering Mercer’s run and having the guts to fight back and pull ahead when they could have easily folded. It was a great win for our team because they accomplished something they had not previously done in their careers.” – Assistant Coach Camille Collier
“Although we got off to a slow start and got down early, our group had to show true toughness to pull out this win. We were truly proud of the relentless, attitude and focus that they displayed. Our program got better that day.” – Assistant Coach Darnell Haney
“The play was one that is just a great example of the toughness of Briona Brown and our team! The emotion on the bench as the play unfolded and we made the following free throws is a feeling we will never forget.” - Assistant Coach Brandon Rohr
Check in every Monday and Thursday for the next four weeks as we countdown Jacksonville’s Top 10 moments of 2013-14!
#10: Men’s Basketball Dominates Dunk City
#9: Men’s Freshman/Novice 8+ Claim Dad Vail Crown
#8: Women’s Basketball Comeback rattles Mercer on Senior Day at Swisher
#7: Coming June 26th
#6: Coming June 30th
#5: Coming July 3rd
#4: Coming July 7th
#3: Coming July 10th
#2: Coming July 14th
#1: Coming July 17th