LAKELAND – Florida Southern College women’s basketball coach Betsy Harris has been looking for a consistent scorer all season.
Julia Jenike is starting to give her what she covets.
Jenike put up a career-high 32 points and added 6 assists and five rebounds to give Florida Southern the boost it needed in overtime to overcome Nova Southeastern 76-69 in a Sunshine State Conference contest on Saturday evening at Streamline Sale Arena inside Jenkins Field House.
After Elsa Landberg scored the first five points of overtime for Florida Southern, Nova fought back once again to tie game at 68-68. Jenike then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Mocs (8-6, 5-1) a six-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“Far as I know it was 0-0 when we started (overtime),” Jenike said. “We just wanted to keep playing together, playing hard and keeping that will to win.”
It was the second time this season that Jenike has reached a career-high in points. Her previous high was 27 points against Lindenwood in December.
Harris was thrilled with the scoring output by Jenike, but it’s her overall game that had Harris mostly smiling at the end of the game.
“We need Julia, not only on offense but on defense,” Harris said. “She’s such a good all-around player. Even when she’s not hitting, which she wasn’t in the second quarter, my assistant was like ‘you want me to give her a break,’ and I said no. She does so many good things, even if she’s not making shots.”
Jenike played the entire 45 minutes and the Mocs needed every bit of it to take down the Sharks (6-6, 2-3) in a rematch of last year’s NCAA Division II South Regional final that was won by Nova Southeastern.
Florida Southern almost didn’t need overtime as Bekki Kalaydijev hit her first points of the game and a free throw to make it 62-59 Mocs with :28 seconds remaining.
Nova’s Hailey Conley tied the game on a 3-pointer with :18 seconds left, and neither team found the bottom of the net the rest of regulation.
It was the second consecutive game that Conley has sent into overtime for the Sharks, who lost 80-76 at Eckerd on Thursday.
Despite having to have to go an extra period, Harris was confident her team would prevail.
“She hit a great shot,” Harris said. “All I kept thinking about was their last game against Eckerd and they lost that one, and they weren’t going to want to lose this one. I saw the look in Elsa’s eyes at the end of regulation, and I could tell which way it was going to go. She hit those first five points and that was huge.”
Florida Southern will next be in action at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Rollins as it seeks to stay near the top of the SSC standings.
Reach Ray Beasock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-802-7553. Follow Ray on Twitter: @itsBEASOCK