Dukes Start 0-2

Posted: November 12, 2012

HARRISONBURG — The banner commemorating the James Madison women’s basketball team’s run to the WNIT final last season was supposed to be unveiled before Sunday’s game against Quinnipiac. But the string connecting the unveiler — former JMU coach Shelia Moorman — to the banner apparently broke, and the banner remained wadded in the rafters.

Things didn’t go any better for the basketball team.

The Dukes dazed their way through a second straight game, this time losing 65-60 to Quinnipiac to snap a nine-game home winning streak and start the season 0-2 for the first time since 2002.

“I thought it was very disappointing the way we played, with the lack of energy, the lack of cohesiveness, and it’s just not typical of what we try to do as a basketball program,” JMU coach Kenny Brooks said. “But that’s my job. I have to make sure that I get these kids together, and I feel like that we’re not on the same page whatsoever — we’re not close to being on the same page. … It’s just bad, just a bad situation.”

JMU opened the season Friday with a poor showing at Virginia, losing 78-57, and followed it up with another clunker, committing 23 turnovers and getting outscored 45-33 in the second half in front of a subdued 1,832 people at the Convocation Center. The Dukes also had 23 fouls and put Quinnipiac (1-0) in the bonus with about 12 minutes left in the game.

Quinnipiac, the preseason favorite in the low-level Division I Northeast Conference, shot just 18.4 percent (7-for-38) in the first half but atoned in the second, going 15-of-30 to shoot 50 percent and rally after trailing 27-20 at halftime.

Felicia Barron had 23 points and the go-ahead basket to lead the Bobcats, who lost 81-73 last season to the Dukes, typically a strong mid-major program.

“In terms of playing and facing and defeating a program with a reputation — and a program that’s coming off 29 wins — it couldn’t be a better way to start the season for us,” Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said.

The Dukes’ highlight was again Kirby Burkholder, who scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds. The junior shooting guard made seven of 18 from the floor and four of 12 from 3-point range. She scored Madison’s first eight points (two 3s) and also made six of six at the free-throw line.

“We’ve got a lot of kids pressing right now, a lot of kids not playing well,” Brooks said. “And we continue to ride the shoulders of Kirby Burkholder, which is not fair. We’re putting too much stress on her and we can’t do that. We’ve got to have other people step up.”

JMU freshman point guard Angela Mickens made her debut Sunday. The R.E. Lee High School graduate scored four points and gave the Dukes a spark off the bench.

Her first basket came with 2:44 left in the first half, when she hit a layup and got fouled. She couldn’t convert on the ensuing free throw.

Tarik Hislop added 16 points, but the senior point guard again struggled shooting, going just 5-of-18. She attributed the Dukes’ problems, including all the turnovers (JMU has 51 in two games) to a lack of team chemistry.

“We’re not together on the floor, yet,” Hislop said. “So that shows in our passing, us executing our offenses, us playing defense as a team. We’re just not doing anything together right now, but we’ll fix that.”

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