James Madison women’s basketball game-tying attempt misfired as time expired in Chapel Hill, N.C., allowing No. 10/11 North Carolina to escape with a 74-71 win at Carmichael Arena Thursday afternoon.
The Dukes finished the non-conference slate with a 10-4 record while the Tar Heels improved to 12-2 before the start of the Atlantic Coast Conference season.
With 2:39 left on the clock, senior Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) sank a pair of free throws to close the gap to a seven-point advantage for North Carolina (74-67). The Dukes forced a turnover before two free throws by redshirt sophomore Jazmon Gwathmey (XXX) closed the gap to 74-69.
After a miss by UNC’s Allisha Gray at the 1:30 mark gave the Dukes the ball, junior Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) sank a jumper at 1:17 to make it a one-possession game. JMU made the defensive stop and forced the Tar Heels into a shot-clock violation, giving the Dukes a final shot at the basket with 9.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
With the ball in Burkholder’s hands, UNC did not allow her a clean look from beyond the arc. While Giggetts came up with the rebound, there was not enough time left on the clock to kick it out for another try, allowing the Tar Heels to escape with the 74-71 win.
Sophomore Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) led the Dukes with 18 points and three steals. Burkholder posted 16 points, going 6-of-7 from the line, with five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Giggetts was the lone Duke to notch a double-double, dropping 14 points and snagging 10 rebounds with two steals and a block.
UNC’s Xylina McDaniel had a game-high 19 points with three blocks and two steals while Stephanie Mavunga posted a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) with three blocks and two steals. Latifah Coleman and Allisha Gray rounded out the Tar Heels in double figures with 14 points and 11 points, respectively.
The Tar Heels led by as many as 13 points (14:13, 2nd half) after a 9-2 run. JMU closed the gap to three points three minutes later off of a 3-pointer by Hall, but another 9-2 run put the Dukes back at a double-digit disadvantage. UNC shot 45.6 percent from the field, earning 38 points in the paint and 24 points off turnovers. The Dukes shot 37.3 percent from the field, scoring 22 points in the paint and 17 points off turnovers, and went 88.0 percent (22-25) from the free-throw line.
JMU won the boards 40-31, including a 15-12 advantage on the offensive glass. Carolina, however, converted their offensive rebounds into 13 points while JMU scored just three points off of offensive rebounds.
The Dukes only lead of the game came in the early goings of the match-up as they scored on their first two trips down the court, taking a 5-2 lead over the Tar Heels. UNC, however, scored on its next five attempts to take a 13-8 lead. UNC pushed its advantage to as many seven before a JMU run tied the game at 21-all. Carolina went on to score the next eight points before Giggetts posted six quick points close the gap again.
With the Dukes trailing 37-34, the Tar Heels put together another run (7-0) and pushed their lead to 10 points, their first double-digit lead of the day. Four straight free throws from Burkholder over the final 34 seconds before half time, however, sent JMU into the locker room down just six (44-38).
JMU opens Colonial Athletic Association play on January 12 with a 2 p.m. tilt against reigning CAA-champion Delaware at the JMU Convocation Center.