Jacksonville, Fla. - Freshman forwards Cherisse Burris (Blue Springs, Mo.) and Jazmin Garcia (Peekskill, N.Y.) combined for 33 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Stetson women's basketball team (19-5, 10-2 Atlantic Sun) to a 73-63 win at A-Sun rival Jacksonville (7-16, 5-7 A-Sun) Thursday evening at Swisher Gymnasium. Four Hatters scored in double figures.
Stetson's historic and potentially record-breaking season continued to set milestones as with the victory, the Hatters clinched consecutive over .500 conference seasons for the first time in a decade and picked up their first win at JU in seven seasons.
Tied 35-35 at halftime, Stetson turned up the defensive intensity with eight steals to force 12 Dolphins turnovers in the second half. Following a double overtime classic (a 93-86 Stetson victory) at the Edmunds Center on January 7 and 30 minutes of evenly matched basketball tonight, the Hatters finally seized control over Jacksonville with a 14-1 run midway through the second half.
Freshman guard Jama Sharp (Mooresville, Ind.) dished the ball to Burris for a layup with 10:31 to play that started the run and put Stetson ahead 59-58; Garcia scored six and Burris added five of those points during the game-sealing spurt. The two rookies combined for 13 of Stetson's last 16 points in all.
Burris finished with a career-high 17 points plus 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season while Garcia finished a perfect 6-6 from the floor en route to 16 points, one shy of her career high, with six rebounds. Junior guard Shanasa Sanders (Jacksonville, Fla.) tied for the game high with 17 points of her own plus six rebounds; junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) efficiently ran the offense to the tune of 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Sharp contributed four assists and four steals for the Hatters, who can officially clinch their A-Sun tournament berth as soon as Saturday. Stetson shot nearly 50 percent from the floor (30-61) and turned the ball over only six times in the second half, finishing with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (18-16) overall.
"What an effort by all of our freshmen tonight; we really needed them to step up to win this game and they did," Head Coach Lynn Bria said. "I thought Cherisse carried us in the first half and Jazmin carried us in the second half. Opponents are keying on Victoria and Shanasa and those two did an excellent job distributing and scoring when they could."
On Stetson's increase in defensive pressure, Bria noted, "JU played very well in the first half and was shooting it well, so we trapped them some more after halftime and those traps got us the turnovers we needed to create."
Jade Cargill posted a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double to lead Jacksonville. Crystal Bell (14 points, nine rebounds) and Tracie Sneed (10 points) joined Cargill in double figures for the Dolphins.
Neither team could draw far away from the other in the first half; the Dolphins found themselves ahead 13-6 after six and a half minutes, but an 8-0 Stetson run immediately followed and put the Hatters up by one. JU pushed back in front by as many as four points and although Stetson would tie the score several times, it would not be able to take the lead before intermission.
Sanders found Garcia underneath the basket for a lay-in with 20 seconds left that sent the game to halftime tied 35-35. Sanders scored nine points with Burris and Garcia adding eight apiece. The Hatters shot 55.2 percent (16-29) from the floor in the first half, but were 0-5 from distance; conversely Jacksonville stayed in the ballgame by forcing 10 turnovers and knocking down five of its 10 first half three-point attempts.
Stetson aims for its 20th win of the season at 4:30 pm Saturday when it tips off with North Florida at UNF Arena. Live Stats links are available at GoHatters.com; fans can watch the game on ASun.TV with a Hatter Vision simulcast for subscribers.
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