FLORENCE, Ala. - Jacksonville women's basketball (14-14, 7-8 ASUN) took on North Alabama (18-6, 9-5 ASUN) at their place Wednesday evening. It was a tight contest throughout its duration, but the Lions made enough shots in the end to claim the 68-59 victory.
After the game opened with a scoreless couple of minutes, the Lions knocked down the first five points. Jacksonville stayed on their heals, though. Then, with just seconds left on the clock, Rolanda Hayes put one in from beyond the arc, giving Jacksonville a 14-13 lead after the first 10. It was just the start of a big day for the senior.
Both teams struggled shooting into the second, but it was during that quarter that JU saw their largest lead of the day. With just under six minutes left, the Dolphins paced UNA 20-15. They found points on four different fast breaks and turned the Lions over seven times.
The last five minutes of the quarter, however, were dominated by UNA. The Lions went on a 14-0 run and seized a 29-22 lead by the half. Through 20 minutes, Jacksonville was shooting just 33 percent. Hayes contributed to half of the Dolphins' points.
Compared to the quick pace of the first two quarters, the third dragged on as fouls began to pile up. The game hit a turning point when UNA's Ivy Wallen was called on a technical foul after dragging Hayes to the ground on an attempted layup. Jacksonville converted on their free throw attempts and made it a two point game. However, another run over the last two minutes and a triple at the buzzer put the Lions up nine as the game headed into the final quarter.
Twice in the fourth quarter the Dolphins were able to cut the deficit to four points, but that was as close as they'd come in the last 10 minutes. North Alabama's Emma Wallen sank a pair of 3-pointers under the five minute mark, making Jacksonville's path to a comeback all the more difficult.
Hayes ended the game with 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, and provided three assists and three steals. Jasmyn Brown poured in 11 while grabbing six rebounds. Shalonda Neely followed Brown with six points and three rebounds.
Up next, Jacksonville hosts the first place FGCU Eagles (23-4, 14-0 ASUN) at Swisher Gymnasium for their final regular season action. It's also senior night for JU, and a special ceremony recognizing four graduating seniors will be held prior to tipoff. Saturday's game is scheduled for 2 PM and will be broadcast on ESPN+.