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Women’s Basketball: Virginia upends James Madison Dukes, 55-49

UVA women’s basketballVirginia (4-3) earned a 55-49 victory over James Madison (5-2) on Saturday in the opening game of the Cavalier Classic at John Paul Jones Arena.

Senior guard Jocelyn Willoughby (East Orange, N.J.) scored 26 points and grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds to lead Virginia to the win. The performance was Willoughby’s third double-double of the season. JMU’s Kamiah Smalls scored 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half, to lead the Dukes.

JMU held Virginia without a field goal for over 16 minutes in the second and third quarters on its way to a 39-35 lead after three. Dominique Toussaint (Staten Island, N.Y.) ended the drought with a layup at the 3:18 mark of third quarter. Virginia would hit five of its next six shots to end the quarter. The Cavaliers outscored JMU 20-10 in the fourth quarter.

After JMU scored the first points of the game, Virginia went on a 19-0 run over the next 6:32 to build a 17-point lead. The Cavaliers held the Dukes without a point for 8:05 during the opening quarter. Willoughby led Virginia with 15 points and eight rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the game. JMU responded with an 11-0 run to open the second quarter before Kylie Kornegay-Lucas (Camden, Del.) knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:37 on the clock. The Cavaliers did not hit a field goal during the second quarter as the Dukes closed the gap to 25-20 at the break.

After the half, JMU scored the first eight points of the third quarter to take a 28-25 lead with 3:18 to play in the quarter. The Dukes extended their lead to 39-35 at the end of the third. JMU would make it 43-35 with 8:31 to play in the game on a layup from Kayla Cooper-Williams. Virginia climbed back into the game with an 8-1 run over the next four minutes, with six points coming from Willoughby. From that point, the Cavaliers outscored JMU 12-5 down the stretch. Willoughby iced the game with a three-pointer with 37 seconds left on the clock, extending Virginia’s lead to 50-46. The Cavaliers went 5-for-6 at the free throw line to see out the win.

“It was a really hard-fought game for us,” UVA coach Tina Thompson said. “We came out and we were cooking. We were making difficult and timely shots and allowing our offense to create opportunities for us. We got a little bit stagnant in the second quarter, but we continued to fight, and our team continued to show up and try to create opportunities for ourselves. We turned up our defense and I’ve said several times before that we’re rooted in our defense. Our defense for sure won the game for us tonight, along with some pretty big plays by these two [Jocelyn Willoughby and Lisa Jablonowsi].”