JMU women’s basketball flies by Elon, 68-51

jmu logoJames Madison women’s basketball battled for a hard-fought 68-51 victory at Elon on Thursday night in Alumni Gym in the first meeting between the programs as conference foes.

The Dukes improved to 5-0 against Colonial Athletic Association opponents and 14-2 overall while the Phoenix dropped to 3-2 in league action and 10-6 overall.

Junior guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) posted a game-high 18 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Of those 13 points, 12 came in a 3:57 span as a part of a 16-7 run on the Phoenix.

Redshirt-senior center Lauren Okafor (Hamden, Conn./Hopkins School (Providence)) tallied her seventh double-double of the season as she poured in 17 points and snagged 14 rebounds, six off the offensive glass. She also blocked three Phoenix shots in the contest, moving her into sole possession of third-most all-time at JMU with 122 for her career.

Of the eight Dukes who saw action on Thursday, seven scored and with at least four points. JMU shot 37.5 percent from the floor (24-of-64) and 62.1 percent from the charity stripe (18-29). The Dukes were, however, limited to a 12.5 percent clip from long range (2-of-16) and did not sink a 3-pointer until the 5:59 mark of the second half.

Elon was led by Shay Burnett’s 10 points, the lone player in double figures for the Phoenix. Jenifer Rhodes added nine points as Elon shot 35.2 percent from the floor (19-of-54), including 31.3 percent (5-of-16) from beyond the arc, and 53.3 percent from the free throw line (8-of-15).

JMU outscored Elon 22-2 in points off turnovers. The Phoenix turned the ball over 22 times, including 13 giveaways off JMU steals, while the Dukes turned the ball over 14 times on six Phoenix thefts. Junior point guard Angela Mickens(Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee) led the assault with a career-high seven takeaways.

The Dukes outrebounded the Phoenix 47-37, including a 17-9 edge in offensive boards, which they converted into a 16-9 advantage in second-chance points.

With the teams trading buckets in the first half, JMU used an 18-9 run to take its first double-digit lead at 11 points (26-15) with 2:58 left before halftime. The stretch was capped by an old-fashioned three-point play by Okafor, who notched the layup and ensuing free throw.

Coming out of the locker room, redshirt-junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty H.S.) stole the ball on Elon’s first possession and helped the Dukes to a 9-3 run to start the second half. The Phoenix countered with a 12-4 run to cut the JMU lead to 10 points (45-35), but the Dukes utilized a 14-4 run for a 20-point lead (59-39) with just over five minutes to play.

JMU returns to Harrisonburg, Va., for a Sunday-afternoon contest against Drexel at 2 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center. Sunday is the first of two Duke Dog Reading Days, so high-volume traffic and attendance is expected.

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