Belmont Downs Jacksonville in A-Sun Game of the Week

Saturday, December 02, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the second time in as many outings, the Belmont women’s basketball team (6-2, 2-0 A-Sun) was able to hold off an opponent by double figures. This time the victim was visiting Jacksonville (4-2, 0-2 A-Sun), who was defeated 72-58, at the Curb Event Center on Saturday afternoon.

The win moved the Bruins to 2-0 in the Atlantic Sun while the Dolphins have yet to earn their first conference win of the season. Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net as the contest opened. Neither team was able to pull ahead by more than three points until sophomore Alysha Clark pushed for a lay-up and was followed by a steal and a lay-up by redshirt freshman Amber Rockwell to give the Bruins the 15-9 lead at the 13:23 mark.

Jacksonville quickly called timeout to regroup by a three pointer by Rockwell increased Belmont’s lead to nine. Ashley Williams led the Dolphins on an 8-2 run that cut Belmont’s lead down to three, 20-17, with just under eight minutes remaining before the break. However, the Bruins picked up the offensive pace and found their rhythm. The team streaked to a 10-point lead, 27-17, punctuated by a triple by junior Laura Cowley that forced JU to call another timeout.

The Dolphins fell into a drought that lasted nearly six and a half minutes before Williams pushed for a jumper in the paint with 2:30 on the clock. Three consecutive Bruin turnovers and a foul led to a quick 6-0 run for Jacksonville but BU was able to hold on for a 33-25 advantage heading into the locker rooms. Freshman Shaunda Strayhorn opened the second stanza with her first trifecta of the game, increasing Belmont’s lead to 11 before Williams hit back-to-back jumpers to try to keep the Dolphins in the game but they hit another drought that lasted over three minutes.

Junior Brooke Sunday dug deep inside the paint and came away with a pretty skyhook that put the Bruins up, 46-29. She was able to capitalize on a steal by freshman Tereva Moore and battle in the paint for another lay-up before being fouled. Sunday was unable to complete the three-point play but Moore recovered with her first triple of the game.

Belmont was eventually able to grow its lead to 20, 56-36, by the 10:51 mark. Jacksonville worked to cut the Bruin advantage down to 11 with less than four minutes on the clock however that would be as close as they would come as BU blew its lead back up to 16 with just over one minute left in regulation.Williams pushed for one more lay-up as time expired and Belmont held on for the 72-58 win.

Jacksonville shot 40.3 percent (25-of-62) from the floor and was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting all six attempts. The Dolphins shot a dismal 18.2 percent from three-point land, knocking down only two of 11 shots. JU held the advantage in steals, 13-8. Three JU players reached double digits – Williams with a team-high 18, and DaVina Hamilton and Virginia Gregoire adding 12 and 10 points, respectively. Hamilton led the team in rebounds, pulling down eight.

The Bruins shot over 40 percent from the floor for the third consecutive game and knocked down 71.4 percent (15-for-21) from the free-throw line. BU hit 31.8 percent (7-for-22) from behind the three-point arc. The team forced 20 turnovers for the second game in a row and held the advantage in assists, 16-13. Clark recorded her fifth double-double of the season with game highs in points (19) and rebounds (10). Strayhorn, who was the only other Bruin to hit double figures, set a new career-high in points with 14. Sophomore Jessica Bobbitt finished with two blocks while Rockwell racked up a career-high three steals.

Belmont returns to action on Tuesday as it wraps up a four-game homestand. The Bruins will host Radford at the Curb Event Center beginning at 7:00 p.m.