published Monday, February 17th, 2014

Jasmine Joyner filling in nicely for Jim Foster's UTC Mocs

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If there was supposed to be any loss of production from the center position when Faith Dupree got hurt against Davidson on Feb. 1, that notion was lost upon the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women's basketball team.

Freshman Jasmine Joyner has stepped into the playing time vacated by Dupree's ankle injury, and the productivity has been similar to what already was complementing senior Ashlen Dewart. As a group, Dewart, Dupree and Joyner have averaged 18.3 points, 10 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.

In the last five games -- including the one when Dupree was hurt -- Dewart's and Joyner's combined averages have been 14.2 points, 10 rebounds and 4.2 blocks. They'll try to reach, if not surpass, those figures when the Mocs face Wofford in a Southern Conference game this evening at 7 in Spartanburg, S.C.

UTC (22-3, 14-0) already has clinched the top seed for the conference tournament.

First-year UTC coach Jim Foster has liked the overall production from the center position. Dewart has been one of only two players, along with forward Taylor Hall, who has started every game, and she is second on the team in scoring (10.7) and rebounding (4.9).

Dupree had a double-double against Alabama off the bench and 21 points against Belmont back in November, and she is the team's fourth-leading scorer at 6.5 points per game.

Joyner brings a different aspect to the game, as the 6-foot-2 freshman with a 6-7 wingspan has blocked 18 shots since her minutes improved from 3.2 in the first 20 games -- which included eight games in which she didn't play -- to the 17 minutes she's averaged in Dupree's absence. She's contributed in other ways, too, averaging 4.8 points and six rebounds as well as 3.6 blocks in that time.

"I have said it many times. She is a great shot-blocker," Foster said of Joyner after Saturday's win over Furman. "She is not a good shot blocker -- she is a great shot-blocker. She understands things like leveraging her defender and the person she is guarding, and she's moving her feet a little bit more. She is going to go to another level."

She leads the team with 30 blocks for the season, and her average of 1.8 per game would qualify for second in the conference had she played in 75 percent of the team's games on the year. Yet her scoring has improved with the added time, as she had a career-high 11 points against Furman.

"What people don't see in Jaz is that she has a soft touch," Foster said. "She really has a soft touch. She is just going to be a heck of a player."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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