Strong second half carries JMU women’s basketball past Richmond, 79-68

jmu logoAfter a 16-3 run to open the second half, the JMU women’s basketball team flew by Richmond 79-68 Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center to move to 6-1 overall on the young season.

With JMU leading by just three at the break (38-35) after nine ties and nine lead changes, Richmond knocked down a three-pointer to open the half and tie the game for a 10th time. The Dukes, however, rattled off a 16-0 run to go up 54-38 with 15:45 to play in the game. Redshirt-senior center Lauren Okafor (Hampden, Conn./Hopkins School) highlighted the run with five points, which included a traditional three-point play after she finished off a layup on an offensive rebound and was fouled.

Following the run, Richmond (3-3) went on a 7-0 stretch to pull within nine at 54-47 and continued the run to pull within six points of the Dukes at 66-60 with 6:48 to play, but that was as close as the Spiders would come throughout the remainder of the game. JMU never let the Spiders get closer than seven through the final six-plus minutes and led by as many as nine until the final 20 seconds when junior guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) knocked down two free throws to extend the lead back to double digits.

Hall led the way for the Dukes with 27 points on 10-of-24 shooting. The Colonial Athletic Association Preseason Player of Year selection has now scored in double digits 16 consecutive contests, dating back to Feb. 23, 2014 in a 78-47 win over Hofstra at the Convocation Center. Hall is now seven points away from scoring 1,000 in her career.

Junior guard Angela Mickens (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) scored a career-high 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field. Her previous career high was 12, which she set on Nov. 22 in an 80-64 win over Pittsburgh. Okafor was the only other JMU player to score in double figures, tallying 14 points. Senior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) led the way on the glass with nine rebounds.

The Spiders had three players score in double figures with Genevieve Okoro leading the way with 13 points. She finished with a double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds. Both Lauren Tolson and Liz Brown recorded 12 points in the game while Olivia Healy contributed 10 points.

JMU held ur to 29.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc (7-24) while shooting 33.3 percent itself from long range. The Dukes also edged the Spiders at the free throw line, outshooting them 75.8 percent (25-33) to 68.4 percent (13-19).

Sophomore forward Da’Lishia Griffin (Chesapeake, Va./Western Branch) hit her first career three-pointer with 14:30 to go in the first half after she fired off an attempt with the shot clock winding down. The bucket was her only made shot of the game, though she pulled down seven rebounds in the contest.

Freshman guard Hailee Barron (Burlington, Va./Rice) knocked down a pair of free throws in the final minutes to score her first points of the season from somewhere other than beyond the arc. Prior to Wednesday, Barron had taken 14 shots, all of which were from 3-point range, and had 15 points on the year.

The victory was the 14th straight at the Convo for the Dukes, and the 11-point margin marks the fourth double-digit win in seven games this season for JMU.

With a crowd of 2,258, the Dukes have now had more than 2,000 fans on hand at each of the four home games this season. Wednesdaywas also the 17th-straight home contest in which 2,000-plus fans were in attendance at the Convo to support JMU. The streak started on March 30, 2013, in the wnit Round-of-16 matchup against Florida.

Madison returns to action Sunday, Dec. 7, on the road against Davidson in North Carolina. The Dukes tip off against the Wildcats at 2 p.m.