news-category: Athletics

Gardner-Webb Dominates Big South with Regular Season and Tournament Championships

a graphic to celebrate the women's championships wins

Runnin’ Bulldogs Claim 21st Consecutive Victory to Punch Ticket to NCAA Tournament

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—The Gardner-Webb Women’s Basketball team earned a spot in the history books on Sunday, March 5, as champions of the Big South regular season and conference tournament. Now, we all have an opportunity to wear a part of that history. For a limited time, championship apparel is available online at three official GWU Big South Women’s Basketball online stores. Check out the details at the Barnes & Noble Spirit Store, or the BSN Team Store.

Gardner-Webb finds out its tournament destination during the NCAA Selection Show on Sunday night, March 12, at 8 p.m. (ESPN). A Watch Party will begin at 7 p.m. in Tucker Student Center.

In the 2023 Big South Hercules Tires Big South Basketball Championship Finals on March 5, Jhessyka Williams played all 40 minutes and scored a season high 33 points to punch Gardner-Webb’s ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The final score for the game was #1 GWU 74 – #2 HPU 61 as the Runnin’ Bulldogs claimed their 21st consecutive victory and finish 21-0 against Big South competition, the best mark in the history of the league. Jhessyka Williams’ 33 points ties a championship game mark for most points scored by an individual.

High Point found their shooting touch early and held the lead for the entire first quarter. The Panthers were able to push their advantage to as many as eight twice during it. At the end of the first quarter, HPU led 18-10.

The Runnin’ Bulldogs opened the second on a 9-0 run to take a 19-18 lead at the 7:31 mark after Alasia Smith converted on an and-one. This marked GWU’s first lead of the game.

The teams traded scoring runs throughout the rest of the period, but Gardner-Webb was able to hold their lead for the final three minutes of the half. Williams made a driving layup in the closing seconds to give GWU a 35-32 lead going into halftime.

In the third, GWU was able to continue to hold off the Panthers leading by two possessions for most of the quarter. The Panthers took their first lead since 3:44 left in the second quarter as time expired in the third. Jensen Edwards converted a step back jumper that put them ahead 49-48 with ten minutes to play. 

Gardner-Webb dominated in the fourth quarter as they scored the first 14 points of the quarter and held the Panthers scoreless for the first six minutes in the final period of action. The margin they created during this run gave them the advantage they needed to get the win as they hit their free throws at the end of the game for the victory.

Williams led all scorers with 33 and pulled down 11 rebounds for a double double. She also had the team-high in steals and blocks with four and two. Layken Cox recorded a double double as well with her adding 16 points and 15 boards. Ki’Ari Cain rounded out GWU’s players in double figures as she finished with 14.

As a team, GWU shot 24-53 (45%) from the floor and hit on 23-29 chances from the line. The ‘Dogs ended with a 41-25 edge on the boards as well.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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