CAA women’s tournament notebook: Seahawks advance to face JMU in quarterfinals

HARRISONBURG — UNC-Wilmington redshirt senior guard Jasmine Steele knew her team needed her to make a difference and she did on Wednesday.

Steele scored a game-high 17 points, including two big back-to-back baskets. Steele helped the Seahawks defeat the College of Charleston, 49-44, in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association women’s basketball tournament at JMU’s Convocation Center.

The Seahawks went eight minutes and 53 seconds without a point during a stretch of the third and fourth quarters, but gave up only six points during that time to maintain their lead.

Clinging to a 44-40 lead with 3:05 left, Steele hit back-to-back baskets to help put the game out of reach.

“I thought I needed to step up because we didn’t make a shot almost that whole fourth quarter until like the last four minutes,” Steele said. “So I just felt like I needed to step up as a senior.”

The seventh-seeded Seahawks (11-19) play second-seeded JMU today at 5 p.m. in the tournament quarterfinals.

JMU (22-7) beat UNC-Wilmington, 73-51, on Jan. 2 and 70-59, on Feb. 17.

“We got to rebound the basketball. You can’t give talented teams second and third shots, additional possessions,” UNC-Wilmington head coach Adell Harris said. “We have to try to make sure everything they do is challenged and there’s five defenders between them and the basket as much as possible. For us, we got to pay attention to detail. We’re going to have to set and use screens. We’re going to have be connected and on the same page and be extremely confident offensively.”

BENCH LIFT: Hofstra knocked off Towson, 77-66, in Wednesday’s first round action. The Pride had 20 points from its bench.

Freshmen Ana Hernandez Gil had eight points, and Marianne Kalin had 12 points for the Pride.

Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said that Hernandez Gil had 10 points in their regular season victory over the Tigers.

“Ana gave us great minutes. Yesterday in shootaround I said remember you played like a rock star against them the first time,” Kilburn-Steveskey said. “When you play well against a team, you remember that as a a player. I thought Marianne did well and she really needed to prove that today. They played tough on her and she handled it (well). …She’s playing now like almost a sophomore. So (Hernandez Gil and Kalin) weren’t playing like freshmen today. That’s what we need and we’re going to need that a little bit more as we move forward.”

Ninth-seeded Hofstra (13-17) was led by Krystal Luciano with 18 points and nine rebounds in the win over Towson. Ashunae Durant had 15 points and eight rebounds and Aleana Leon added 14 points for the Pride.

Hofstra will now play top-seeded Elon University (24-6) today at noon in the CAA tournament quarterfinals.

Elon won both regular season meetings. The Phoenix won 63-54 at Hofstra and 72-61 at Elon.

Luciano said she likes being the underdog.

“It’s not bad being the underdog at all,” Luciano said. “I feel like it’s a really good position to be in, because people are expecting us to play the same (way) that you did in the regular season.”

DUKE CONNECTIONS: There are several connections to Duke University’s women’s basketball program in this year’s Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

College of Charleston head coach Candice Jackson was an assistant coach at Duke from 2012-14 on current Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie’s staff. The Blue Devils, who are currently ranked No. 9 in the country, went to the Elite Eight twice in the three years Jackson was there.

Just two years prior to Jackson’s arrival at Duke, current JMU assistant coach Bridgette Mitchell graduated from Duke. Mitchell played at Duke for four years, and now is in her first year as an assistant coach at JMU.

Mitchell played all four years at Duke for McCallie, whose daughter, Maddie, is a senior for top-seeded Elon.

Maddie McCallie is averaging 2.3 points and 14 minutes per game for the Phoenix. She had two starts this season.

On Dec. 8, Elon lost 68-61 at Duke. It was only the third time in NCAA history that a mother and daughter had competed against each other as coach and player.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com