HAMDEN, Conn., Nov. 11, 2011 - Lauren Whitehurst (Chesapeake, Va./Boston College) scored a career-high 17 points, including hitting six of seven from the field, to propel the James Madison women's basketball team to a season-opening win over Quinnipiac.
The game started off with the Dukes struggling to find their rhythm, missing their first four shots and turning the ball over four times in the first three minutes. "We definitely struggled at the start," said JMU Head Coach Kenny Brooks.
"We are a very new team. The players are still learning each other and I'm still learning them," said Brooks. "But to get a win when you struggle is a good sign."
After trailing most of the half, the Dukes went on an 8-2 run to take the lead at 6:14 in the first. Quinnipiac came within one point three times throughout the rest of the game but JMU did not trail in the game again.
It wasn't until the second half however, when the Dukes finally started to click under Whitehurst's leadership. "We went in to the locker room at halftime and we knew we were the better team," said Whitehurst, who was a perfect three-for-three shooting and added three free throws in the second half. "When we went out for the second half I knew I was going to have to be a leader for the team. So I just tried to step up and do what I could to help the team win."
Madison looked as though it was going to run away with the game, leading 52-33 midway through the second half but got into foul trouble that allowed the Bobcats to fight their way back to within two points. "They were in the bonus for about 12 minutes in the second half which really hurt us," Brooks said. "When you have that many fouls early, you have to change the way you play defense because any time you touch them they have opportunities to score without the clock running."
In the end, it was Quinnipiac's foul trouble that enabled the Dukes to seal the game. Junior point guard Tarik Hislop (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch) hit nine of 10 from the line, including hitting five in a row with under 1:15 left to play to put the Bobcats away.
Hislop led the Dukes in scoring with 20 points while junior Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) had to five steals and five defensive boards. Sophomore Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) also grabbed seven rebounds and drained a pair of three pointers for the Dukes.
After posting their first win of the season the Dukes now prepare for Sunday when they face American University at 2 p.m. in Washington, D.C.