Florida colleges

Nova women’s basketball expects to improve on program’s best season ever

 

Special to The Miami Herald

Nova Southeastern’s run to the Division II Elite Eight last week was the best season in program history, despite an 80-76 overtime loss to Western Washington in San Antonio.

The unranked Sharks rallied from a 17-point deficit to force overtime against No. 5 Western Washington in the quarterfinal matchup. Nova’s defense forced 27 turnovers.

Although the defeat was no doubt disappointing for Nova, another season just as good could be possible for the Sharks.

With freshman point guard Taylor Buie playing major minutes off the bench, the Sharks, in essence, had six starters, and four of them will return next season.

Guards Meixandra Porter and Tailor Jones will be missed, but the backcourt should be exceptional with Jessica Russi, Danielle Robinson, Amanda Burakoski and Buie all returning.

And forward Jasmine Wilkins, who averaged 10 points and eight rebounds in 2011-2012, should return after an injury cost her this past season.

FIU

The softball team (21-19) is being led this year by a pair of freshmen: catcher Aleima Lopez — a native of Puerto Rico — and pitcher Corinne Jenkins.

Lopez leads the team in RBI (25) and Jenkins (11-5, 3.21 ERA) has replaced Mariah Dawson as the team’s top pitcher. Dawson, a junior who went 20-13 with a 2.86 ERA last season while making second-team All-Sun Belt Conference, is off to a 4-10 start with a 4.33 ERA.

Lopez’s brother, Jack, plays minor-league baseball for the Kansas City Royals. Their father, Juan, also played minor-league ball, reaching Triple A for Houston. Jenkins’ father, Mack, is the assistant pitching coach for the Cincinnati Reds.

ST. THOMAS

Demonte’ Simpson, a 6-10 junior center, was named honorable mention NAIA All-American after he led the Bobcats’ men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 of the national playoffs. Under first-year coach Patrick Gayle, the Bobcats lost 61-60 to Dakota State.

The outlook for next season appears bright. The Bobcats’ top seven scorers return, including point guard Kevin Hincapie, who led NAIA Division II with 101 steals and topped the team in assists. In all, there will be 10 seniors on next season’s roster.

Elsewhere

• Former Miami Dade College outfielder Jesus Feliciano helped Puerto Rico finish second at the World Baseball Classic. That was Puerto Rico’s best showing, and it included a knockout win over the United States. Feliciano appeared in all eight of Puerto Rico’s games, posting a solid .350 on-base percentage.

• Holland pitcher Loek Van Mil also competed in the WBC. At 7-1, he is the tallest pitcher in the minor leagues, but he still would have to look up to Barry pitcher Frank Szczepanic, who is 7-2.

•  Lane Carico, one of the best players in Miami Hurricanes volleyball history, is now competing on the sand for Georgia State. Carico is working on her master’s degree, and Miami does not yet have a sand volleyball program.

Read more State Colleges stories from the Miami Herald

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