ANDERSON, S.C. – Recording its highest free throw percentage for a game on the afternoon (86.2) and capitalizing on 13-of-14 in the final five minutes of play, Anderson University women’s basketball completed the series sweep over South Atlantic Conference foe Lenoir-Rhyne, 76-67, Saturday afternoon at the Abney Athletic Center.
The Trojans finished the contest 25-for-29 from the charity stripe, highlighted by junior Jasmine Franklin’s perfect 8-for-8 mark from the line en route to a team-high 15 points. Freshman Heather Jankowy followed Franklin in points with 14, including a 3-for-5 afternoon from 3-point range. Sophomore Jennifer Monroe recorded her third double-double of the season with 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds for her second straight double-double inside the Abney Center. Junior Sierra Simpson polished off AU’s double figure scoring with 12 points, missing her third double-double of the year by one rebound, finishing with nine.
Preseason SAC First Team honoree Jazmine Charles was 6-for-17 (35.3 percent) from the floor, but still managed a game-high 17 points with eight rebounds in 36 minutes of action for the Bears. Teammate Brittany Christian, who earned just her fourth start of the year, poured in 16 points while substitute Nneka Awuruonye dropped in 12 points.
“This was a great team effort today,” Anderson head coach Jimmy Garrity said. “I was really proud of our players and the way we competed. We played at a high level with great energy and we did a great job sharing and taking care of the basketball. It was great to see us make free throws down the stretch to secure the win.”
Despite the matchup being tight throughout the afternoon, Anderson scored the opening bucket of the game when Jankowy knocked in a long jumper as the Trojans never relinquished the lead for the entire game.
After Christian brought the score to 10-9 in favor of Trojans with a traditional 3-point play, Anderson began a 12-0 outburst beginning with senior Emily Willoughby’s lone 3-pointer of the contest, bringing the score to 22-9 with 11 minutes left in the half.
Holding a 24-14 lead with 9:14 left, the Bears began the chip away at the Anderson advantage, earning a 9-3 run that sent the score to 27-23 with 4:40 left in the opening period. Awuruonye scored five of L-R’s nine points in the run.
Not to be out done, the Trojans brought the lead back to 11 when Jankowy buried her second 3-pointer of the half and Franklin followed with a tradition 3-point play, bringing the score to 37-26 with 1:49 left.
After the Lenoir-Rhyne’s (11-4, 6-4 SAC) Jordan Hiatt made a pair of free throws with eight second remaining in the half, the Trojans had minimal time left for one final possession. Jankowy grabbed a Simpson pass and connected a long 3-pointer while being fouled by Christian, leading to a 4-point play to end the half. The Trojans would match their largest lead of the opening period of 13 when the teams went into the locker room at 43-30.
With AU holding a 50-40 lead five minutes into the final half, L-R began a quick 5-0 run in just a minute of action, headlined by Morgan Cooper’s three points and two rebounds in the span. The Bears found themselves down just five with 13:30 left in the period.
After junior Katie Davis fired a 15-footer to give AU a 54-48 with 9:17 left, the Trojans went on a drought from the field, misfiring on five straight shots. Despite the cold shooting, Anderson did its damage from the free throw line, making 10 free throws until its next field goal at the 2:10 mark and holding at least a three-point lead in the span.
The eventual final Trojan field goal came with time winding down on the shot clock in a critical AU possession. Franklin, who found herself at the top of the key, tossed up an awkward shot which banked hard off the glass and fell through the net for her first made 3-pointer since Anderson’s overtime victory over Lander on Nov. 9. The much-needed basket gave the Trojans a six-point lead that L-R was unable to match. Following the bucket, the Trojans made 7-of-8 free throws to seal their ninth win of the season.
AU improves 8-0 on the year when scoring over 70 points for a game and earns its third straight win over the Bears before dropping five straight since AU entered the SAC prior to the 2010-11 season. For Lenoir-Rhyne, the setback snaps a six-game winning streak.
Anderson finished the contest shooting just 38.3 percent from the floor and 36 percent from 3-point range, but bettered its counterpart in both categories, as L-R posted a 37.5 shooting percentage and made just 2-of-10 from behind the arc.
The Trojans carry their first winning streak since November as they look to make it three straight victories on Wednesday when they head to Brevard for their final road trip of the month. Tip-off from the Tar Heel State is set for 6 p.m. as AU seeks its second straight series sweep.