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JMU women’s basketball clinches CAA regular-season title

jmu logoNo. 23/21 James Madison women’s basketball cruised to an 85-49 victory at UNCW on Thursdaynight, clinching the top seed in next month’s Colonial Athletic Association championship tournament.

The Dukes moved to 23-2 overall and 14-0 in CAA action, securing at least a share of the 2015 CAA regular-season title. The Seahawks dropped to 10-15 overall and 6-8 against CAA teams.

After JMU was unable to get further than four points away from UNCW through the opening six minutes of the game, the Dukes used a 15-5 run to take their first double-digit lead of the day, capped by an old-fashioned three-point play by junior guard Precious Hall at the 7:30 mark of the first half.

The Dukes led by as many as 13 points twice in the first half before a 6-2 spurt by the Seahawks cut the JMU lead back to single digits (34-26, 1:02). A pair of free throws by Hall to close the half pushed Madison back to a double-digit lead for good, heading into the locker room with a 36-26 advantage.

Hall scored 17 points over the first 20 minutes of play, including 13 of the last 15 JMU points before halftime. She continued that stretch by scoring the first five points of the second half and finished with a game-high 25 points for the Dukes. The junior guard has now scored 520 points this season, the 13th highest single-season total in JMU history.

Junior guard Ashley Perez tallied 13 points on the evening, shooting 5-of-10 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the line. Redshirt-junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey rounded out the double-digit scoring for JMU with 11 points. Freshman guard Hailee Barron was just one point shy of her career high at nine points, sinking of 3-of-4 attempts from range.

As a team, JMU shot 43.7 percent from the floor (31-of-71) with a 60.7 percent showing from the free throw line (17-of-28). UNCW was limited to 35.5 percent shooting (22-of-62) from the floor and 33.3 percent shooting (2-of-6) from the free throw line.

JMU turned the ball over just seven times, a season low, while forcing UNCW into 27 giveaways. The Dukes capitalized on the turnovers for 29 points while the Seahawks were unable to score off any of Madison’s turnovers.  Madison committed 13 steals, led by Gwathmey’s season-high five thefts, which allowed the Dukes to outscore the Seahawks 18-6 on fast break opportunities.

UNCW outrebounded JMU 48-42, including a 32-27 advantage on the defensive end. The Dukes, however, blocked seven of the Seahawks’ shot attempts with a season-high three by senior forward Toia Giggetts. She is now tied for 13th all-time on the JMU blocked shots chart at 72 career blocks with Kanita Shepherd (2008-13).

Okafor tallied two blocks on the evening, giving her 41 for the season and sole possession of 10th place on the single-season blocked shots chart.

Hall started her 87th consecutive game for JMU, now tied for the eighth-longest streak in program history with Lesley Dickinson (2003-06). Giggetts competed in her 129th game for the purple and gold, moving into a tie for fifth all-time with Kisha Stokes (2005-09). With a team-high eight rebounds, she also moved into a tie for 11th on the all-time rebounds list with Katherine Johnson (1974-77) at 739 career boards.

The Dukes return home on Feb. 22 to take on third-place Hofstra at 2 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center. Sunday is the annual Play 4Kay game as well as Girl Scout Day and National Girls & Women in Sports Day. Tickets are available here or by calling the JMU Athletic Ticket Office at (540) 568-3853.


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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