JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (judolphins.com) – In front of an enthusiastic crowd of young fans in attendance for Education Day, the Jacksonville University women's basketball team raced past former ASUN Conference foe USC Upstate, 87-43, Tuesday morning at Historic Swisher Gymnasium.
"Our group came out and they executed on both ends of the floor, but especially on the defensive end which is what we hang our hats on," noted head coach Darnell Haney following the game. "… It was a total group effort. Everyone played their roles to the best of their ability and I'm proud of that. We forced [USC Upstate] into 35 turnovers and that attributed to us being active and locked in on the defensive end. I want to commend my coaching staff, our group, and everybody in our program for helping us out along the way."
Jacksonville (3-2) held USC Upstate to just seven points in the third quarter, as the Dolphins' signature defensive prowess played a key role with 23 steals on the day. Four players combined for 17 of those steals, as redshirt-senior Shalonda Neely led the way with five steals. Sophomore Destiny Marshall (17 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists), junior Jada Perry (12 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists), and freshman Da'Nasia Shaw (2 points, 2 rebounds) all recorded four steals each in the win.
Jacksonville erased a 12-5 lead by the visitors and capped the first quarter with a 7-0 rally to deadlock the game at 12 to end the first quarter.
The Dolphins continued their high-paced style of play and extended its run to 19-3 – thanks in part to eight points off the hand of senior Mariah Batz and four from Neely – to lead by nine, 24-15. As the Spartans (3-2) worked a 5-0 rally to bring things within six, 28-22, Jacksonville closed out the half with a 10-4 run to hold its advantage by double-digits, 36-24.
Neely posted 11 points and brought down five boards in the first 20 minutes alone and finished the day with a team-high 17 points and six rebounds to go along with her five steals.
Added Haney, "Shalonda Neely played a heck of a game. She scored; she rebounded; she had five steals. That was really big for us. We set a goal on how many steals we wanted to get – about six or seven per quarter; if we can get that, we're in good shape."
Back-to-back layups from Neely (8:09) and Marshall (7:39) sparked a 13-0 run to open the second half and extend the Dolphins' lead, 51-28. During that run, Marshall notched five of her 17 points, while Neely added four.
With 11 of the Dolphins' 13 points through the first 5:49 of the fourth quarter, redshirt-senior Shakayla Nevitt sparked a JU surge, 78-37. From there, Jacksonville never let off the gas as time ticked off the clock and the Dolphins took their second win in as many games, 87-43.
Nevitt finished the day with 12 points, while junior Alexis Pierce and Batz finished the day with eight points each.
The Spartans were led by 11-point performances from Michaela Gibbons and Brianna Lewis, while Riley Popplewell brought down a team-high seven rebounds.
The Dolphins head to Boulder, Colo. this Sunday, Nov. 24 when they visit the University of Colorado at 8 p.m.)
ABOUT THE ASUN
The ASUN Conference is an NCAA Division I league with nine member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The ASUN meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement through a true balance between student and athlete. Six ASUN schools reside in Nielsen Top 50 national media markets, and all nine are in top 80 markets. The ASUN includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Liberty University, Lipscomb University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of North Alabama, University of North Florida and Stetson University. Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., joins the ASUN for the 2020-21 academic year.