Dukes end skid with impressive win over St. John's

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- James Madison women’s basketball defeated Big East opponent St. John’s 64-51 on Friday afternoon. The Dukes are a perfect 5-0 this season at home and extended a win-streak to 18 straight at the Convocation Center.

JMU (7-3) jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead with Lexie Barrier leading the way with four of those points. She would finish the quarter with nine points. The Dukes held St. John’s (7-4) to just two field goals on 13-percent shooting to take an early 17-7 lead. It would also mark the 10th time this season the Dukes held an opponent to under 10 points in a frame.

The Red Storm started off the second quarter on a six-point run to cut the deficit to just four points, 17-13. The Dukes would continue to battle with Kamiah Smalls and Jackie Benitez each knocking down three’s to keep JMU ahead. St. John’s ended the frame on a 9-2 run with the Dukes leading it 34-25 at the half.

The Dukes posted an 8-0 run to start the third quarter with six of the eight points coming from the charity stripe. The Dukes shot an impress 43-percent from the field in the frame to stay ahead 50-30 midway through the quarter. St. John’s ended the quarter on a 6-0 run but JMU stayed ahead 54-38 with 10 minutes to play.

It was a slow start for both teams in the final frame but the Dukes remained in control and didn’t waiver on their way to an 18th straight Convocation Center victory. The Dukes hit six of their 16 free throws in the quarter to pull away with the win 64-51.

GAME NOTES
---Smalls tallied her 11th consecutive game scoring in double figures and is seven away from reaching the 1,000-point milestone
---Kayla Cooper-Williams swatted four shots away, improving her career block total to 165 – three shy of tying Jazmon Gwathmey (168) for the third-most in program history
---The Dukes improved their win streak at home to 18 games which is the fourth longest in program history
---Barrier went 7-11 (.636) from the floor and tallied a season-high 17 points
---This is the eighth time this season the Dukes have held their opponent to 60 points or less in a contest (No. 7/7 Maryland is the one team to score more than 60)
---Led by Cooper-Williams with 11 boards, JMU outrebounded the Red Storm 46-36
---With the Dukes 14 offensive boards, JMU scored 22 second chance points

STAT LEADERS
---Smalls led the Dukes offensively for the eighth game with 18 points, while Barrier added 17 and Jackie Benitez added 11.
---Cooper-Williams had a game-high 11 rebounds and four blocks
---Devon Merritt and Logan Reynolds both dished out a game-high two assists

QUOTING COACH O’REGAN
“I’m proud of our effort. We were really good today. Defensively, it was a phenomenal effort. It started with Kayla who was phenomenal on the defensive end. Kamiah got a lot of pressure and I think she stayed poised and Lex then got us started.”

“We came off that bitter loss at Wake and we went after it. What I love about our team, anything I’m throwing at them, they’re responding.”

UP NEXT
JMU will take a couple of days off before playing in its final non-conference matchup of the season at Robert Morris on Sunday, Dec. 30 at noon.