Top-seeded James Madison women’s basketball shot 46 percent from the field, including 54.2 percent in the second half as it won its Colonial Athletic Association Quarterfinal game against ninth-seeded UNCW 69-56 at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., Friday.
JMU advances to the CAA Semifinals where it awaits the winner of the quarterfinal game between fourth-seeded Drexel and fifth-seeded Hofstra. The semifinal matchup is scheduled for a noon start and is available on regional TV. The Dukes improved to 26-5 on the season and 43-24 all-time in the CAA tournament. UNCW completes its season with a 5-27 record.
Sophomore guard Precious Hall (Tallahassee, Fla./Maclay School) paced the Madison offense with 18 points, including hitting four of six attempts from 3-point range. The All-CAA Second Team selection added five rebounds and an assist. Redshirt sophomore guard Jazmon Gwathmey (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) chipped in 12 points, four rebounds and tied her career high with five assists. Junior forward Toia Giggetts (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) scored in double figures for the 22nd consecutive game with 13 points and pulled in a game-high seven rebounds.
UNCW was paced by guard Kelva Atkins with a game and career-high 33 points. She scored 25 of her 33 in the second half including 25 of the team’s final 31. Brie Mobley chipped in 16 points and six rebounds while Amber Reeves totaled three points and had four rebounds.
Leading by 10 at halftime, the Dukes opened the second period on an 11-4 run to push its lead out to 17 with 14:56 to go. The lead grew to as much as 19 with 11:08 to play before Atkins helped ignite a 12-2 run to cut the advantage to nine. The lead hung between nine and 14 points the remainder of the way as Madison held off any further threat by four free throws in the final two minutes of play.
JMU outscored UNCW 16-12 in the paint and 6-1 off the bench, but UNCW used nine offensive rebounds to outscore JMU 9-5 in second-chance points. The Seahawks also held an 8-5 lead in points off turnovers as they committed only 10 turnovers to 12 for the Dukes.
JMU held UNCW to 34.6 percent from the field and out-rebounded its foe 35-29. Wilmington assisted only four of its 18 baskets, but did finish with five steals to only three for the Dukes.
Senior guard Kirby Burkholder (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby) scored eight points and made two 3-point shots. She now has 104 3-pointers on the season and is eight shy of the CAA single-season record of 112 held by Dawn Evans (2007-11). She also moved into a tie for 10th on the school’s all-time steals list with 178.
JMU carried a 31-21 lead into halftime on the strength of its defense. The Dukes held UNCW to 26.9 percent shooting in the first stanza, including 25 percent from 3-point range. JMU out-rebounded its foe 22-15 and shot 38.5 percent from the field.
Hall scored 10 of her 18 points in the first period while Gwathmey went into the break with five points, two rebounds and three assists.
Madison started the game with a 9-2 run and eventually built its lead to as large as 13 in the opening period. Mobley scored nearly half of her team’s first-half points, finishing with 10 to help UNCW keep it close at 31-21 heading into the break.
The Dukes improved to 7-1 all-time against the Seahawks in the CAA Tournament. This was the teams’ first meeting since playing in the quarterfinals in 2010.