Dukes show depth in success with Cooper-Williams sidelined

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The James Madison women's basketball team went 4-0 over the last two weekends while playing without standout center Kayla Cooper-Williams.

The James Madison women's basketball team went 4-0 over the last two weekends while playing without standout center Kayla Cooper-Williams.

Cooper-Williams was sidelined with an injury and missed each of JMU's last four games. JMU head coach Sean O'Regan says the Dukes expect Cooper-Williams to return to the lineup this week. She's started all 14 games she has appeared in this season while averaging 7.5 points per game and 10.4 rebounds per game to go along with 47 blocks.

"For us to go 4-0 without the (CAA) Defensive Player of the Year and a leader, a captain," said O'Regan. "I think it's a testament to the others and the leadership we have on our team."

Stepping up in Cooper-Williams' absence have been senior Devon Merritt who has started in her place, freshman Rayne Tucker who is averaging 7.5 rebounds per contest over JMU's last four games, and sophomore guard Jaylin Carodine who grabbed 14 rebounds in a recent victory over Hofstra.

O'Regan went on to say he's excited Cooper-Williams is returning to game action. Her first game back is expected to be Friday night when JMU pays a visit to Delaware for a 7 p.m. tip-off in Newark.

James Madison enters Friday's game with a 15-3 overall record and a 6-1 mark in CAA play. The Dukes are currently a 0.5 game back of Drexel (7-1 CAA) for the top spot in the conference.

Jefferson named CAA Rookie of the Week for sixth time
For the second time in as many weeks, James Madison women’s basketball freshman Kiki Jefferson has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week as announced by the league office on Monday afternoon.

This honor marks this sixth time this season that Jefferson has claimed the award. Her sixth weekly honor leads the CAA and is twice as many as the next most individual honors (Kamiah Smalls, three Player of the Week selections and Bre Bellamy, William & Mary, three Rookie of the Week selections).

Jefferson once again posted dominant numbers as the rookie was second on the team in points (18.0 per game) and field goal percentage (58.3 percent, 14-of-24), third in three-point percentage (41.7 percent, 5-of-7) while also dropping 2.5 assists and grabbing 2.0 steals per game in JMU’s 2-0 week.

On Sunday, against Northeastern she led the way for the Dukes, dropping a game-high 17 points on an efficient 7-of-11 (63.6 percent) from the field to go along with a career-high four steals, two rebounds and two assists. In the dominant 92-50 win against Hofstra, Jefferson tacked on 19 points, four rebounds and a game-high tying three assists.