Behind a 21-point effort from sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) and a 14-point performance from junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), James Madison women’s basketball battled for the 62-57 victory over Towson on Thursday evening at SECU Arena.
The Dukes improved to 2-0 in Colonial Athletic Association and 12-4 overall. Towson dropped to 2-1 in league action, 8-8 overall, and saw its four-game win-streak snapped.
Hall matched her season high of 21 points and tied her career-high of four made 3-pointers for the fourth time, the first since making four from beyond the arc against Alcorn State on Nov. 24, 2013. She also sank all five free throws and snagged five rebounds, three on the offensive glass.
Hall’s fourth made bucket from beyond the arc gave the Dukes their largest lead of the night at 10 points. The Tigers, however, battled back and a 3-point shot by Tanisha McTiller gave the Tigers their first lead of the half at 49-48 w/ 6:32 remaining. A pair of made free throws by Hall regained the JMU lead at 50-49, but Towson answered for the 51-50 advantage.
On the ensuing Tigers’ possession, Mickens stood in for her second charge of the night, creating a big turnover in favor of the Dukes. JMU took advantage as Giggetts dropped in a layup to put the Dukes back on top for good at 52-51, sparking a 6-0 run that put them ahead 56-51.
While Towson pulled back within one point at 58-57 with 1:12 to go, a layup by redshirt senior Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) and a pair of free throws by senior Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) gave the Dukes the final 62-57 lead.
Burkholder finished with nine points, including a 4-of-5 performance at the line, to move into 16th all-time in JMU scoring history (1,289) as she passed Missy Dudley (1,284). Newman tied her career-high of five blocks including a key stop to preserve the lead in the waning moments of the game. She also tied a career-high eight assists with five rebounds, four points and a steal.
Towson’s Tanisha McTiller led the game with 24 points, including four 3-pointers. Nyree Williams was second for the Tigers with 15 points plus nine rebounds and two blocks.
JMU shot 41.8 percent from the field, including 38.5 percent from beyond the arc while Towson was held to just 36.1 percent shooting, 31.3 percent from long range. The Dukes held a 36-20 advantage off points in the paint and a 15-7 advantage off second-chance opportunities. They also won the battle of the boards 41-38.
After falling behind 6-2 in the early goings of the match-up, the Dukes used a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game at 9-6. JMU went on to push the lead to 16-10, but the Tigers countered with a 9-2 run to retake the lead at 17-16 w/ 6:21 to go.
JMU settled in and picked up the 19-17 lead off a Burkholder 3-point shot. The shot sparked a 10-0 run by the Dukes, pushing the lead to 26-17, forcing Towson to call a timeout w/ 4:26 remaining before halftime. While the Tigers would pull within five points with 30.1 seconds in the half, a lay-up by Giggetts pushed the Dukes lead back to seven (34-27) heading into the locker room.
The Dukes trek further north for their next game, a 2 p.m. tipoff at Hofstra on Sunday, Jan. 19.