Senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the JMU women’s basketball season came to a close with a 85-69 loss at Texas A&M at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas, Tuesday.
JMU finishes its campaign with a 29-6 record. It tied the school record for wins in a season and won the program’s first NCAA Tournament game since 1991. Texas A&M advances to the Sweet 16 where it meets seventh-seeded DePaul in Lincoln, Neb. The Aggies improve to 26-8 on the year.
Burkholder added two steals, an assist and a block in 35 minutes played to lead Madison. Redshirt sophomore guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) and sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) chipped in 14 points apiece. Junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) concludes her season with 26 consecutive double figure scoring games as she poured in 12 points to go with four rebounds.
The Aggies were led by senior Karla Gilbert with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Point guard Jordan Jones handed out 16 assists and forward Courtney Williams scored a game-high 23 points, grabbed six boards and dished out four assists.
Heading into the locker room, Texas A&M held a four-point advantage, but used an early 5-0 spurt to push its led to 10 points at 59-49. The Dukes hung tight, battling back several times, including cutting the deficit to seven on a jumper by Gwathmey with 12:06 to play, but again A&M had an answer. The Aggies scored the next seven points to claim a 71-57 lead. JMU got as close as seven points one more time with a jumper by Hall, but could not threaten beyond that point.
The Aggies shot 50 percent from the field in the contest, making 29 of their 58 shots. They assisted on 23 of their buckets and limited themselves to 11 turnovers in the game. The Dukes shot 36.9 percent and held a 6-2 advantage in blocked shots. TAMU outscored JMU 36-28 in the paint, with 20 of those points coming after halftime. It also became the third team to win the battle of the boards against the Dukes this season, holding a 42-36 rebounding advantage.
Redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) had a team-best five assists to finish her JMU career. She also pulled in three rebounds and blocked a shot in 27 minutes of action. She moved into a tie for fourth on the school’s career game’s started chard with 120, tying Dawn Evans (2007-11) and Lesley Dickinson (2003-07) on the list.
The opening half was an up-and-down battle featuring five tie scores and six lead changes. JMU opened the game by scoring eight of the first 12 points to lead 8-4 They stretched that lead to as many as six points on a pair of free throws by Burkholder, but the Aggies responded with an eight-point run to jump in front by two. They would build their advantage to as many as five points and eventually went to the locker rooms with a four-point lead.
Texas A&M shot 52.0 percent in the opening period, including making two of their six 3-point attempts to head into the locker room leading 47-43. JMU kept it tight by shooting 45.2 percent and holding an 18-15 advantage on the boards. The Dukes also made 13 of their 14 free throw attempts and held a 20-16 lead on points in the paint.
The Dukes return to Harrisonburg Wednesday morning. Fans are invited to greet them at the Convocation Center at noon for a Welcome Home event. Updates on the team’s arrival time will be posted on twitter by following @JMUSports as well as on the JMUSports facebook page.