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JMU women advance in NIT

jmu logoJunior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) scored 26 points to lead the James Madison women’s basketball team to a 77-61 win over Fordham in the round of 16 of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament Wednesday evening at the JMU Convocation Center.

The Dukes advance to the WNIT quarterfinals and will host Florida on Saturday, March 30, at 4 p.m.  Florida beat Charlotte 67-65 Wednesday night to earn the right to play JMU.

JMU’s record is now 25-10, while Fordham ends its season with a 26-9 record.

Burkholder, who also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for her 11th season double-double, was 9-for-14 from the field.  She hit 6-of-10 from 3-point range.

Three other Dukes scored in double figures, including sophomore forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) who tallied 14 points and had career highs of three blocked shots, four steals and four assists.  Giggetts was 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 at the foul line.

Freshman guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay) also scored 14, and redshirt freshman guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) added 11.

Fordham was led by senior forward Marah Strickland (Mt. Airy, Md./Towson Catholic) with 24 points  Redshirt junior guard Erin Rooney (Christchurch, New Zealand/Marion) added 15, and junior guard Abigail Corning(Wethersfield, Conn./Wethersfield) scored 13 and had a game-high eight rebounds.

Burkholder hit back-to-back 3’s to help JMU to a 12-5 lead at 15:52, and the Dukes never trailed after that point. JMU led by as many as 14, 32-18, with 6:27 left after a Burkholder 3 capped a 13-2 scoring run.

But the Rams rallied behind 10 points by Strickland as Fordham outscored JMU 14-4 to get within four, 36-32, with 1:04 to play.  Strickland started the run with a layup and also hit two 3-pointers, including one that finished off the run.

In the second half, another Strickland 3 kept Fordham within four, 43-39, at 17:45.

Burkholder, however, hit her next four shots, including three 3-pointers, as JMU sprinted out to its largest lead of the night, 67-45, with 8:34 left.  The Dukes outscored Fordham 24-6 and finished off the run with 13 unanswered points, including seven straight by Hall.