Dukes' season comes to an end with loss in WNIT semifinals

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- James Madison women’s basketball’s season ended in the WNIT Semifinals with a 74-69 loss to Northwestern. The Dukes racked up 29 victories this season to tie the program record for wins in a season.

Northwestern (21-14) started off the game on a 7-0 run and never looked back. The Wildcats put together a 10-0 run in the opening frame and led 19-5, but the Dukes battled and hit three from behind the arc in the quarter to cut the led to seven (19-11).

Following a 6-0 JMU run in the first quarter, Jackie Benitez drained a trey to put the Dukes down five, 19-14. The two teams could not be stopped from shots from behind the arc and JMU was able to cut the Northwestern lead to just three, 20-17. The Dukes hit seven from behind the arc in the first half, one shy of tying the program record as JMU trailed for just the eighth game of the season 34-27.

It was a back-and-forth battle coming out the locker rooms, but Abi Sched was a perfect 4-4 from the three-point line to give NU the advantage. Benitez continued to hit from deep range and at the buzzer, Madison Green drained a three as the Dukes trailed 57-47.

Aneah Young scored all 10 of her points in the second half, and eight of her 10 in the fourth quarter. The Dukes trailed 69-63 with less than a minute to play, following a putback by Kayla Cooper-Williams. Benitez hit her sixth trey as JMU mounted a comeback 70-66 with under 30 seconds to play. Kamiah Smalls was fouled at the three-point line and drained all three with four seconds on the clock but JMU trailed 72-69. NU held on and hit two free throws in the waning seconds to advance to the championship 74-69.

“First of all, still very thankful to our administration for a chance to host that game in that environment. That means a lot to me. I wish we could have gotten it done. Secondly, I’m proud of our team in general for the year we had, the adversity we pushed through. I’m proud of them. As tight knit a group that I’ve had as a head coach. I think a lot of that responsibility came from Logan and Aneah. Two unselfish leaders that take players under their wings, play unselfishly. They poured everything into this program the right way. Proud of the way we care back and fought. I had no doubt we would end up fighting. Very thankful for what they (Logan & Aneah) gave me and the program. Going to be tough to see them go.”