JMU WBB rallies to defeat UCF

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (JMU Athletics) -- James Madison women's basketball rallies to take down UCF 46-43 at the John Paul Jones Arena on Sunday. The Dukes improved to 6-2 overall following the win.

Sean O'Regan and JMU women's basketball defeated UCF in Charlottesville 46-43 on Sunday, December 1.

Kayla Cooper-Williams led the Dukes with eight points, 16 rebounds and two blocks. Kiki Jefferson also added three points, two steals and two blocks off of the bench and Jackie Benitez chipped in with 13 points.

Led by Cooper-Williams' six offensive rebounds, JMU did a great job crashing the offensive glass, pulling down 14 boards that resulted in 16 second chance points.

The JMU defense held UCF shooters to just 30.2% from the field, including 16.7% from three-point range. The Dukes also kept Sianni Martin to 4-of-15 shooting and 10 points in the game.

How it Happened
JMU kept it close in the first quarter, but entered the second frame down 9-6.

JMU chipped away at that deficit and built a 17-13 lead before going on a 5-0 run, highlighted by a three from Benitez, to increase its lead to 22-13. The Knights then came roaring back to take a 21-17 lead heading into halftime.

JMU started to cut into the deficit after halftime, bringing it to 34-33 by the end of the third quarter. JMU knocked down four three-pointers in the quarter to score 12 of its 16 total points.

The Dukes rallied in the game's final frame, outscoring UCF 13-9 and overtaking the Knights for good on a Georgia Gayle free throw with 00:03 left to grab the 46-43 victory.

GAME NOTES
Kayla Cooper-Williams now sits third all-time in rebounds with 936
This was the third time this season Cooper-Williams has grabbed 10 or more rebounds
Cooper-Williams grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds
JMU shot went 5-6 (83.3%) from the free-throw line
The nine points allowed in the first quarter is the fewest allowed in the frame
JMU held UCF to under 10 points in two quarters marking their eighth time doing so this season to an opponent
JMU has a three-game win streak against UCF
The Dukes are 2-0 when facing UCF at a neutral site
Fewest points allowed since giving up 37 to North Carolina A&T on March 22, 2019
This was the fewest points scored by JMU since 43 against Elon on February 4, 2018

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING:
Coach Sean O'Regan: "I want to shout out Kayla Cooper-Williams. Played her best game this year. Her leadership, energy throughout and made big plays down the stretch. Kiki Jefferson made big plays. There is no one I trust more with the ball down the stretch than Kamiah Smalls, I don't care if she has 0 points or 35 points. It was a good effort. With no prep going into this game, I thought we did a good job gutting it out. "

Kayla Cooper-Williams: "I think we got another start we didn't like. However, what was different today was the fight. I think for us, we lost yesterday and we wanted to play our game and come out with a win."

UP NEXT
JMU will have 16 days off before taking on their next opponent in Delaware State. The Dukes and Hornets will meet up at the Convocation Center on Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.