HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 20, 2011 - Using a very stingy defense, the James Madison women's basketball team extended its home winning streak to 14 games, battling to a 60-46 victory against visiting Middle Tennessee State.
The Dukes remained undefeated on the season, moving their record to 4-0, while the Blue Raiders dipped to 2-2 on the year.
Madison forced 19 MTSU turnovers, converting that into 18 points, while limiting the Blue Raiders to just 36.0 percent from the field and 22.2 percent from the three-point line. JMU was 43.1 percent from the field and a stellar 60 percent from the three-point arc. Additionally, the Dukes held a 39-30 advantage on the glass. Middle Tennessee also was outscored at the charity stripe, as JMU was 10-for-15 while the visitors were a paltry 6-for-17 on free throws.
The Blue Raiders got the early 4-2 lead on a pair of buckets by Ebony Rowe, but the Dukes responded with a 10-0 run over the next 3:10 to take a 12-4 lead. Sophomore guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) was key in the run, hitting back-to-back triples to spur the surge.
Madison went through a small offensive drought over the next six minutes, scoring just one basket to allow MTSU to trim the lead to 14-10 with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half. However, JMU kept the defensive pressure up and found some offensive rhythm again, putting together a 11-2 spurt this time to take its biggest lead of the half at 25-12 with 4:21 remaining.
After an exchange of baskets, Middle Tennessee scored five points in just 51 seconds to cut it back to eight at 27-19 with 33 seconds to play in the half. JMU took the last shot of the half and Burkholder made it count, hitting her third three-pointer of the game just as the buzzer went off to give the hosts a 30-19 halftime advantage.
MTSU slowly chipped away at the JMU lead through the first part of the second half, getting the margin down to five on two occasions, the last at 39-34 with 10:21 to play in the contest. Redshirt-junior Jasmine Gill (Greensboro, N.C./Page) then made a late impact, scoring six of the next eight points as part of a 9-0 JMU run over three-and-a-half minutes to push the lead out to 14 at 48-34 with 6:57 to play.
An Icelyn Elie layup cut the margin back to 12 but that was as close as the Blue Raiders got in the final minutes, as Madison answered every attempted run with a basket in the closing minutes.
Gill led three Dukes in double figures with a game-high 18 points, while Burkholder added 14, including going 4-for-4 from the three-point line. Redshirt-senior Lauren Whitehurst (Chesapeake, Va./Indian River) posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, with junior Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) getting it done defensively with a career-high five blocks and career high-tying five steals. MTSU was led by Rowe's 14 points with Elie chipping in 12 as the only two Blue Raiders in double figures.
Madison will now be off for the next 10 days through the Thanksgiving break before returning to the court on Dec. 1, when they travel to Lynchburg, Va., to take on the Liberty Flames. Tip off at the Vines Center is scheduled for 7 p.m.