JWU Falls in TSC Semifinals to No. 1 Southeastern, 88-51

Tianna Ayulo
Tianna Ayulo

LAKELAND, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2018) – Playing in the program's first Sun Conference Semifinal contest, the Johnson & Wales women's basketball team (13-16) fell to the No. 1-ranked Southeastern Fire (28-0), 88-51, on Friday evening from The Furnace in Lakeland, Florida.

JoNae Gonzales led all Wildcats with 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including five buckets from 3-point range. The native of Richmond, California, also grabbed a team-best-tying six boards versus the Fire. With her 19 points on Friday, Gonzales finished third on the team in scoring with 303 total points and a season scoring average of 10.8 points-per-game. TSC Freshman of the Year Tianna Ayulo ended the contest with 14 points on 6-of-22 shooting with five rebounds and game-high five steals. The squad's leading scorer for the 2017-18 season, Ayulo ended the campaign averaging 16.9 points-per-game (489 total points).

Closing out a stellar career in a JWU uniform was First-Team All-TSC selection Diamond Williams, who added seven points, a team-high-tying six rebounds and three assists in her final game as a Wildcats. The school's all-time leading scorer (1,575-career points), ends the 2017-18 season averaging 16.0 points-per-game (464 total points) while leading the team with 100 assists.

SEU was led by Ana Richter (TSC Player of the Year), who posted 18 points and 13 rebounds for one of the Fire's two double-doubles in the game. The other belonged Marlena Schmidt, who notched 11 points and 10 rebounds.  

A scoring drought with only one made bucket in the final 4:42 of the second quarter put the Wildcats in a hole too big to overcome. JWU was unable to take advantage of 15 SEU turnovers, trailing the Fire, 40-23, at the half. Ayulo led all Wildcats with 10 points and five rebounds. Richter led SEU with 16 points and nine boards in the first 20 minutes of action. JWU converted 8-of-32 from the floor (25.0 percent) to the Fire's 59.1 percent from the floor (13-of-22) in the first half of action.

The Wildcats finished the night shooting 23.7 percent from the floor (18-of-76) and 19.6 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-46). The 46 total attempts from 3-point range were a season-high. SEU converted 60.4 percent (32-of-53) from the field and was 8-of-18 from downtown (44.4 percent). The Fire held a 45-36 edge in rebounding while JWU's defense forced 25 SEU turnovers (the most any team from the Sun Conference had forced all season).

With the loss, JWU finishes the year with a 13-16 record, having won five of its last six contests of the season.