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JMU announces 2013-2014 women’s basketball schedule

jmu logoComing off a 25-11 record and a run to the WNIT Quarterfinals, head coach Kenny Brooks and the James Madison women’s basketball team announced its 14-game non-conference schedule for the 2013-14 season on Tuesday.

Coach Brooks’ squad has won 24 or more games and appeared in a post season tournament in each of its past eight seasons. The Dukes are again facing a competitive non-conference slate to give them a chance to continue that success.

The challenging schedule includes five home games, four road games and five neutral court contests. It also consists of at least six teams that finished in the top 113 in last year’s Ratings Percent Index (RPI), and five teams that appeared in last year’s NCAA Tournament. The Dukes play in three tournaments during November and December, including one at home in the Convocation Center.

“We are excited about our non-conference schedule,” Brooks said. “We think we put together a very challenging schedule. In my 10 years here, it is probably the most challenging schedule. We wanted that for this particular group. With our balance of veterans and young players, we felt like they were up to the challenge.”

The season tips off Nov. 8 at home against the University of Virginia. This is the sixth time the local rivals are scheduled to play each other in the last five seasons, with Madison sporting the 3-2 advantage in the recent series.

Following the home opener, the Dukes depart on a couple of road trips, playing at defending Big South champion Liberty on Nov. 12 and WNIT participant Richmond on Nov. 21. JMU’s last game before Thanksgiving is at home against Alcorn State on Nov. 24.

After the holiday, Madison travels to Naples, Fla., for its first tournament of the season. JMU plays in the Gulf Coast Showcase and opens up against UCLA on Nov. 29 in the three-day, eight-team tournament. Depending on the outcome of that game, the Dukes face either Mississippi State or Grand Canyon University in the second round with Middle Tennessee State, Southeastern Louisiana, North Carolina State and Wright State as potential final-round opponents.

Madison opens up December with a trip to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Dec. 4, prior to taking a break for finals. It then travels to New York City to play in the St. John’s Classic on Dec. 14-15. On the 14th, JMU plays against defending SWAC champion Prairie View A&M. The next night, the Dukes challenge tournament-host St. John’s as their final game ahead of the Christmas break.

The final action for JMU prior to the New Year, and the beginning of Colonial Athletic Association play, is at home for the JMU Invitational. Ohio University, Norfolk State and Maryland, Baltimore County all venture to Harrisonburg for the two-day tournament. JMU and Ohio square off on Sunday, Dec. 29, with the consolation and championship round scheduled for Monday, Dec. 30.

The 2012-13 Dukes went 25-11, with a 15-3 mark in the CAA. They went 14-6 on their home court, including a 3-1 record in the WNIT to make a run to the quarterfinals. Four starters and eight letterwinners return from last season’s team, including 2012-13 First Team All-CAA guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby), 2012-13 CAA Rookie of the Year Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) and 2011-12 CAA Defensive Player of the Year Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby). The program also gets redshirt junior center Lauren Okafor (Hamden, Conn./Hopkins School) active after sitting out a year as a transfer. Other returning contributors are junior forwards Crystal Ross (Philadelphia, Pa./Smryna (Del.)) and Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), sophomore guards Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) and Angela Mickens (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) and sophomore forward Destiny Jones (Miramar, Fla./Archbishop McCarthy).

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