Senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) scored 22 points and snagged five rebounds to lead the James Madison women’s basketball team to a 94-50 win over Norfolk State in the championship game of the JMU Invitational presented by Fairfield Inn at the JMU Convocation Center Monday afternoon.
Burkholder, who was named the Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Week earlier in the day, was named the JMU Invitational Most Valuable Player after finishing with 40 points, 19 rebounds and six assists in the two games. It is the second time she’s been a tournament MVP this season and the third time she’s been named All-Tournament. Burkholder was also the MVP at the St. John’s Chartwells Holiday Classic and was All-Tournament in the Gulf Coast Showcase.
Joining Burkholder on the All-Tournament team was redshirt-junior center Lauren Okafor (Hamden, Conn./Hopkins School (Providence)), junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), Ohio guard Mariah Byard and Norfolk State forward Quineshia Leonard.
The Dukes took control of the game against the Spartans from the opening tip, hitting their first four shots to jump out to an 11-0 advantage. After a bucket by Leonard briefly halted the Madison run, JMU scored the next nine points to push its lead out to 20-2. The Spartans never got closer than 16 points the remainder of the game and trailed by as many as 30 in the first half. JMU carried a 47-17 lead into the break, making it three straight halves it has held an opponent under 20 points.
The second half was more of the same for JMU as it built its lead to as much as 46 on a pair of free throws by Okafor and again on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Angela Mickens (Staunton, Va./Robert E. Lee). The Spartans briefly got the lead under 30 points early in the second half, but an 11-1 run by Madison, including five straight points by Burkholder, ballooned the lead up to 38 with 17:08 remaining in the game.
Joining Burkholder in double figures were Okafor with 14, sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) with 13, Giggetts with 12 and redshirt-sophomore guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) with 10. Ten of the 11 players active for JMU scored in the game with all 11 seeing action. Mickens and redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman(Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) tied for the team lead with four assists each while three other players had three.
Madison dominated the glass in the game, outrebounding its opponent 54-30. Six different players recorded at least five rebounds with Okafor pulling in a team-best nine. The Dukes had 24 offensive rebounds leading to a 29-14 advantage in second chance points and a 42-20 lead in points in the paint. JMU had a season-low 10 turnovers and forced NSU into 16 giveaways.
Norfolk State was led by Leonard with 12 points and 10 rebounds while forward Rachel Gordon had nine points and eight rebounds. Guard Rae Corbo had five points and a team-best four assists and guard Kieera Basey chipped in eight points on 3-for-6 shooting.
Next up for JMU is a trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., where it takes on 10th-ranked North Carolina on Jan. 2 at 2 p.m.