Redshirt sophomore forward Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) scored a game-high 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field to lead the James Madison women’s basketball team to a 69-58 win over Drexel at the Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday evening.
JMU won its 11th straight to improve to 21-4 on the season and 11-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dukes have an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the CAA regular season title and the top-seed in the CAA tournament with a win on Thursday at Delaware. Drexel dropped to 12-12 overall and 7-4 in the league.
In addition to her 16 points, Gwathmey pulled in five rebounds and added a steal. Sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) joined her in double figures with 14 points, adding a season-high seven rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal while senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) poured in 13 points to go with five rebounds and two assists. Junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) scored 10 points to reach double figures for the 16th consecutive game.
Drexel was led by guard Fiona Flanagan with 14 points, including 11 in the second half. Guard Meghan Creighton chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and three assists while forward Tory Thierolf scored 10 points and pulled in two rebounds.
After a jumper by guard Carrie Alexander pulled the Dragons to within 50-45 with 9:53 left in the game, JMU embarked on a nine-point run to re-establish control. The Dukes pushed the lead out to 14 points on a lay-in by Gwathmey with 6:21 remaining and never allowed Drexel to close the gap to less than eight points the rest of the way. JMU scored its final eight points at the free throw line to salt away the final minutes on the clock.
The Dukes shot 54.3-percent from the field for the game, hitting on 25 of its 46 attempts from the field. That included an 8-for-15 (53.3-percent) mark from 3-point range while Drexel shot 41.8-percent from the field and 27.3-percent from three.
Madison enjoyed a 12-0 advantage on fast break points and used a 38-26 advantage on the boards to outscore Drexel 8-2 on second-chance points. The Dragons converted JMU’s 17 turnovers into 16 points while Madison forced 12 turnovers and converted them into 15 points. The Dukes held an early 10-0 lead on points in the paint, but the only finished the game with a 28-16 lead in the lane.
After falling behind 5-4 early in the first half, the Dukes rattled off 17 of the next 23 point to build a 21-10 lead at the second media timeout. JMU would score the next five points after the media timeout as part of a 13-0 run that put them in front 26-11. That stretch was finally broken by free throw by Fiona Flanagan at the 8:01 mark.
Drexel snapped a drought of nine minutes, eight seconds without a bucket when Abby Redick hit a spinning layup at the 5:28 mark of the first. It ignited a run of nine straight points from Drexel that closed the Madison lead to nine points. It was part of a larger 15-5 run by the Dragons to close out the half with the JMU leading 34-26.
Drexel assisted on its first nine buckets to help it shoot 38.5-percent from the field in the opening stanza. JMU shot 51.9-percent and assisted on 11 of its 14 baskets. Drexel’s one-point lead at 5-4 was its only lead of the game. JMU has only trailed its CAA opponents for a total of 13 minutes, 21 seconds out of 440 minutes of action this season.
The Dukes return to the court next Thursday, Feb. 20 as they take on Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del., for a 7 p.m. game.