HARRISONBURG, Va., Jan. 23, 2014 – James Madison women’s basketball bridged halftime with a 33-12 run, opening up a 28-point lead on Drexel and never looked back as it dominated a clash of Colonial Athletic Association unbeatens with a 74-47 victory at the JMU Convocation Center Thursday evening.
The Dukes won their fourth straight and grabbed sole possession of first place by improving to 14-4 overall and 4-0 in the CAA. Drexel saw its three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 8-9 and 3-1 in the league.
Sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) paced five Madison players in double figures with a game-high 16 points. Redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) chipped in a season-high 14 points on a career-high four made 3-pointers, adding seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block. Senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) had 14 points while redshirt sophomore guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) and junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Burkholder moved into 14th on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,321 points. She passed Krissy Heinbaugh (1991-96) who had 1,310 points.
Madison trailed only once in the game and took the lead for good on a jumper by redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) to go ahead 6 to 5. The Dukes eventually stretched the lead out to seven at 23-16 before closing the first half on a 17-6 run to head into the break leading 40-22. They followed that up with a 16-6 stretch to open the second half, building the advantage to 28 points with 11:47 remaining in the second half.
Guard Alexis Smith was the only Dragon to score in double figures, finishing with 13 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Forward Abby Redick contributed seven points, seven rebounds and three assists and forward Sarah Curran had seven points to go with five boards.
The Dukes committed a season-low eight turnovers in the game, including going the entire first half without handing the ball to the opposing team. They took advantage of the 17-8 advantage in turnovers to the tune of a 19-6 advantage in points off turnovers. Madison also led in fast break points (9-0), second chance points (10-5) and points in the paint (26-22).
Nine of the 10 Madison players to get in the game grabbed at least one rebound to help JMU post a 42-33 margin on the boards. It is the 16th time in 18 games this season that the Dukes have outrebounded their opponent. Both Newman and Burkholder moved past Mendy Childress (1975-79) on the team’s all-time rebounding list. Newman moved into eighth-place with 768 while Burkholder slid into ninth with 763.
Newman also moved into a tie for 15th on the school’s career games started list with 103rd start.
The 27-point difference is the largest-ever margin of victory for JMU in a game against Drexel, surpassing the previous record of 23 points from Feb. 2, 2003. This is the second time in the last four games that JMU has beaten a CAA opponent by its largest margin, after also doing it to Delaware on Jan. 12.
Hall made her first two free throws in the game, giving her 21 consecutive made free throws. It is the ninth-longest streak in school history, surpassing the 20 straight made by Burkholder (twice).
The Dukes return to the court on Sunday in Wilmington, N.C. as they play a 2 p.m. CAA contest against UNCW at the Trask Coliseum.
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