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JMU defeats UVA, advances in WNIT

uva basketballThe UVA women’s basketball team (20-13) had its season come to an end with a 61-55 loss at James Madison (26-8) on Sunday (March 19) in the second round of the 2017 Women’s National Invitation Tournament at JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va.

In a game with 15 lead changes and seven ties, the final momentum swing went in the favor of the Dukes who scored 10 points in the final 1:33 to close out the victory on their home court.

Senior guard Breyana Mason (Woodbridge, Va.) closed out her collegiate career with a 19-point game, going 7-of-10 from the field. Junior forward Lauren Moses (Mount Holly, N.J.) scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Two-time CAA Player of the Year Precious Hall scored 28 points, including hitting a three-pointer with 54 seconds remaining that put the Dukes in the lead. Hall was 7-of-22 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free throw line.

“It was just a tough game in a hostile environment,” said Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle. “We struggled to score. I think their press slowed us down and we got out of a rhythm. We made some pushes but then we made some crucial mistakes down the stretch. JMU is a veteran team and a lot of credit to them. It was such a close game every possession mattered. Whether we turned the ball over, didn’t get a rebound, there were so many crucial plays down the stretch that we just had to be on point with no mistakes. [Jocelyn Willoughby] fouled out and that hurt us.”

Virginia shot 40.8 percent (20-of-49) while the Dukes went 19-of-52 (36.5 percent). James Madison had a 38-32 edge in rebounding.

The game opened with nine lead changes in the first six minutes. Mason started things off for the Cavaliers, scoring the team’s first six points on three consecutive makes. The Dukes were held scoreless for the final 4:09 of the quarter. A drive through the lane by Mason gave UVA a 15-14 advantage. Mason was fouled on a three-point attempt in the final two seconds of the period, making two of her attempts to give UVA a 17-14 edge.

Hailee Barron tied things up by hitting a three-pointer 21 seconds into the second quarter. JMU would miss its next nine shots, with the Cavaliers building up a 24-19 lead after junior guard J’Kyra Brown (Rocky Mount, N.C.) drilled a three-pointer from the wing. JMU’s offense ignited in the final three minutes of the period, outscoring UVA 11-2 down the stretch to take a 30-26 lead into the break.

Virginia tied up the game, 34-34, in the third quarter on an and-one from Moses, but a three-pointer from Logan Reynolds put the Dukes back in the lead. Mason started a 6-0 UVA run to close out the period by converting an and-one. Freshman guard Dominique Toussaint (East Orange, N.J.) followed with three free throws to give UVA a 41-40 edge heading into the fourth.

After two scoreless minutes by both teams to start the fourth, Toussaint hit a jumper from just inside the three-point line to give UVA a 43-40 lead. Hall hit a deep three-pointer followed by a jumper from Kamiah Smalls after a 10-second backcourt violation by UVA to give the Dukes a 47-43 lead with 4:27 remaining, the 13th lead change of the game. The Cavaliers took back the lead after Toussaint scored on an inbounds play and built it up to 53-49 by a three-pointer from Mason with 2:08 remaining. UVA held that same four-point advantage with 1:33 remaining when Hall went to the line, making a pair of free throws. After a Virginia miss, JMU got the ball back into the hands of Hall who drained a deep three-pointer with 54 seconds remaining to put JMU up 56-55. The Cavaliers didn’t get another good look at the basket, missing their final shots. JMU went 5-of-8 from the free throw line in the final 17 seconds to close out the game.

Mason finishes her career with 1,080 career points, ranking 26th in program history.

“I am proud of the team and what they did this year,” Boyle said. “A lot of youth played a lot of minutes over the course of the season and that’s always a good thing. I know those kids will work hard in the summertime to be that much better next year.”

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