No. 24 JMU women’s basketball tripped up, 66-62, at Vanderbilt

jmu logoIn the final non-conference game of the season, No. 24 James Madison women’s basketball suffered a 66-62 setback at Vanderbilt on Monday night at Memorial Gymnasium despite a career high 21 points by junior guard Ashley Perez (Manchester, Conn./Manchester (St. John’s)).

The Dukes fall to 9-2 on the season as they snap a five-game win streak. The Commodores improve to 8-4 overall, snapping a two-game losing streak.

With the game tied at 62-62 and the shot clock winding down, Vanderbilt’s Jenkins was able to get off a shot to give the Commodores a 64-62 lead with 50.4 seconds remaining.  A missed shot by JMU left the ball in VU’s possession, leaving Perez to foul Rebekah Dahlman.

Dahlman went 1-2 at the line, giving the Dukes the ball with 26 seconds left to play and down by three (65-62). Perez got a solid look at a 3-pointer for a tie, but the ball bounced off the rim and into the Commodores hands. A made free throw by Jasmine Jenkins solidified the four-point win for Vanderbilt.

Junior guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) rounded out the double-digit scoring efforts for JMU with 13 points. Junior forward Destiny Jones (Miramar, Fla./Archbishop McCarthy) snagged a career-high eight rebounds, six on the offensive glass, and added nine points over 18 minutes on the floor.

Junior point guard Angela Mickens (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) accounted for 10 of the Dukes’ 11 assists on 24 made baskets. As a team, the Dukes shot 32.9 percent from the floor (24-of-73), including a 23.3 percent clip from beyond the arc (7-of-30). Madison made 13 trips to the charity stripe, all in the second half, and scored on seven of those trips including a 4-of-4 performance by Perez.

Vanderbilt shot 37.7 percent from the field (20-of-53) with a 33.3 percent shooting average from deep (5-of-15). The Commodores held the advantage from the free-throw line, scoring on 21 of 30 trips.

JMU held the rebounding edge 48-43 with a 17-8 advantage on the offensive end. The Dukes outshot the Commodores 15-9 on second-chance attempts.

Overall, there were 15 lead changes in the game and 12 tie scores. The Dukes held the lead for 22:52 of the game while Vanderbilt led for 5:23, and the teams were tied for over a fourth of the game (11:35). There was never more than a five-point difference between the teams.

Over the first 20 minutes of action, JMU and Vanderbilt traded leads eight times with six tie scores in between. Madison held Vanderbilt scoreless over the opening 3:20 and held them without a field goal for the first 6:23 of the game.

The Dukes headed into the locker room with a 30-28 lead over the Commodores thanks to a big second-chance bucket by Jones in the closing minute of the half.

In the second half and with the game tied at 36-36, a three-point attempt by the Commodores bounced off the rim and Jones fought for the defensive rebound. The Dukes pushed it back up the floor and found a waiting Hall, who drained a three to give the Dukes a 39-36 advantage with 15:29 to play.

Vanderbilt regained the lead at 46-45 after ending a 4:21 drought between field goals, but Perez drained a 3-pointer to put JMU back in front. While JMU trapped Vanderbilt on its ensuing possession and forced a travel call, the Dukes were unable to capitalize and put points on the board.

The largest VU lead of the night came off a 5-0 run as the Commodores went out in front 58-54 with 6:49 to play. JMU called a timeout to draw up a play that saw Hall fire off a three-point attempt that failed to go in.  Senior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), however, cleaned up the glass and put it back for two to cut the lead in half. JMU committed a steal on the next play and tied the game at 58-all when redshirt-junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty H.S.) dropped in a put-back jumper with 5:56 left on the clock.

After Vanderbilt built a 62-58 lead, Perez powered into the lane to cut it in half once again with 3:44 remaining. After back-and-forth play, she dropped in a pair of free throws to tie the game at 62-all, the final tie of the contest.

JMU opens Colonial Athletic Association play on Sunday, January 4, 2015 against Towson. Tip-off at the JMU Convocation Center takes place at 2 p.m.