Redshirt junior center Lauren Okafor (Hamden, Conn./Hopkins School (Providence)) recorded her first career double-double to pace three Dukes in double figures as the James Madison women’s basketball team defeated Prairie View A&M in game one of the St. John’s Chartwells Holiday Classic in Queens, N.Y., on Saturday.
JMU won its second straight to improve to 7-2 on the season and 2-2 against neutral site opponents. Prairie View dropped its seventh consecutive game to fall to 0-7.
Okafor had career-high 16 points and a JMU-high 10 rebounds, chipping in three steals and a block in 20 minutes played off the bench. Senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) contributed 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals while redshirt sophomore guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) had 10 points and three blocks.
The Panthers were led by a game-high 20 points and four assists from guard Jeanette Jackson. Forward Larissa Scott added nine points and a team-high eight rebounds while center Ash a Hampton-Finch had six points and five rebounds.
Madison took control of the game early on, running out to a 20-6 lead in the first seven and a half minutes. That run included a 14-2 spurt that saw six different players score for the Dukes. The lead never climbed lower than 11 points the remainder of the game and got as big as 33 with 4:23 remaining in the second half. Ten of JMU’s 11 players scored in the game with eight of them registering six points of more.
Redshirt senior forward Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) snagged eight rebounds in the game, giving her 715 for her career. She now ranks 10th in school history after passing both Kisha Stokes (2006-09) and Sydney Beasley (1983-85, 86-88) on the all-time list. She fifth-year Duke also contributed eight points while junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) had eight points and four rebounds.
The Dukes shot 45.8 percent for the game, including a blistering 51.6 percent in the first half. Six of the teams 27 made shots came from beyond the arc, as the team shot 37.5 percent from downtown. Prairie View was limited to 32 percent from the field, including just 22.2 percent from 3-point range. Madison outrebounded Prairie View 49-32 for the game with 18 of its rebounds coming on the offensive end. The Dukes forced the Panthers into 21 turnovers and came up with 12 steals. They committed 20 turnovers and had 13 assists.
All seven of JMU’s wins this season have come by double digits. This was JMU’s first-ever meeting with Prairie View A&M as Madison improved to 2-0 against the Southwestern Athletic Conference, including a win over Alcorn State earlier this season.
The Dukes are back on the court on Sunday as they take on tournament host St. John’s at 2:30 p.m.