HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 27 — The James Madison University Convocation Center does not take kindly to visitors. The No. 16/15 GW (AP, ESPN/USA Today) women’s basketball team discovered the building’s lack of hospitality Tuesday evening. The Dukes extended their Division I-best home winning streak to 29 games after defeating the Colonials 80-55.
GW (5-2), a squad with serious post-season aspirations, was playing its third-straight game without senior Whitney Allen and second-straight game without junior Antelia Parrish. Allen, a forward who is known for her stingy defense, suffered a broken left ring finger before the season began but played in the Colonials’ first four contests. Parrish, a forward/guard who is second on the team in scoring average with 14.6 points per game, sprained her left ankle in the Colonials’ Nov. 23 victory over South Dakota State.
“No excuses,” said head coach Joe McKeown. “We’re supposed to be a top-20 team. We played without them (in a Nov. 24 win over Western Kentucky). I’m not going to talk about (the injuries).”
JMU coach Kenny Brooks said he did not believe his team’s victory was less impressive because the Colonials were missing two of their key starters.
“This is basketball. Injuries are a part of it,” Brooks said. “No asterisk. A win is a win.”
The big difference came in rebounding. GW had 26 boards while the Dukes (5-0) had 29 defensive rebounds alone and 53 total. McKeown said that the rebounding difference is what “killed” his team.
While the Dukes shot 44 percent from the floor, it was the team’s second, third and fourth chances that made the difference.
“We’re getting second- and third-chance opportunities,” Brooks said. “It’s not shooting percentage, it’s how well you do on that possession. We shot the ball well. We got the ball inside, played it outside. Defended well. Probably our most complete game this season.”
Down by 11 at the half, the Colonials crawled back to within seven early in the second period but quickly let the game get away. As the second half progressed, it turned less into a competition and more into a JMU-led tutorial on how to score. Whether it was from outside the arc or driving the lane, drawing the foul and hitting the free throws, almost every JMU possession appeared to end with a score. Senior Tamera Young had 20 points, while freshman Dawn Evans added 19 points. They were two of the Dukes’ four players in double digits.
The Colonials, meanwhile, were the opposite. They shot an abysmal 1-for-15 from three-point range and 31 percent from the field. While junior Jessica Adair had 21 points and senior Sarah-Jo Lawrence added 13 points, they did not come easy. Lawrence took 15 shots and Adair 13. Senior Kim Beck launched 12 of her own to see only three fall.
“I give them credit. They played terrific defense,” McKeown said. “I was more disappointed with the way we executed. It would have been nice if we could have gotten anywhere near them. They made a lot of shots tonight.”
The Colonials now travel to New Orleans to play in the Four Points by Sheraton Invitational. GW faces UNLV Nov. 30 and Samford Dec. 1.