Hall, Dukes Move To Semis
Ugly Win? Maybe, But Madison Dumps Towson, 59-48
It may not have been the best approach.
“It was ugly,” Brooks said after the second-seeded Dukes beat No. 7 seed Towson 59-48 on Friday at a mostly empty Show Place Arena. “We did not play well. I thought we were off-rhythm all night long.”
JMU shot just 27.8 percent (20-of-72) for the game and a miserable 19 percent (8-of-42) in the first half but still advanced to the CAA semifinals today at 4:30 p.m. It will face No. 3 seed Drexel (21-9).
The Dukes (22-9) are trying to win their first CAA title since claiming back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011. That also was the last time they made the NCAA tournament.
Madison went 1-1 against Drexel this season, beating the Dragons in the season finale to clinch the second seed in the tournament. The Dukes would face top-seeded Delaware, the defending league champion, or No. 5 seed Hofstra in the final Sunday at 2 p.m. if they advance today. Both the semifinals and final will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet.
It was probably better that Friday’s game wasn’t on TV.
“We’re going to have to play much better, if we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win this whole thing,” Brooks said.
Freshman guard Precious Hall led Madison with 16 points. The CAA’s Rookie of the Year also had seven rebounds and 12 points in the second half.
Senior point guard Tarik Hislop scored 13 points to move into third place on JMU’s career scoring list, passing Meredith Alexis. Hislop had her 99th game with double-figure points, which moved her into third-place all-time at Madison.
JMU got off to a hot start — going on an 11-2 run to open the game. But it didn’t last, as both teams forgot how to shoot. With 3:42 left in the first half, Madison and Towson were shooting a combined 14.5 percent (8-of-55).
“I thought it was going to be jitters in the beginning, but we started out great, and then we caught the jitters right in the middle,” Brooks said. “We missed a couple layups that we should have made, but we stepped up; we won the basketball game, and we have to survive to advance, and that’s what we did.”
Unlike Towson, the Dukes recovered, shooting 40 percent (12-of-30) in the second half to maintain a comfortable double-digit lead after intermission. They led by as many as 18 points with 58 seconds to play, and the closest Towson got was 10 with 9:21 left.
“We’re in the tournament now, so we’re going to grind out anything to win,” said JMU junior guard Kirby Burkholder, who had 10 points and six rebounds.
The Tigers — who are now 3-32 all-time against JMU — made 17.2 percent of their shots (5-of-29) in the first half and shot just 25 percent (15-of-60) in coach Joe Mathews’ last game. The Stanley native’s contract is not being renewed and he is out after 12 seasons, finishing with a 147-207 record.
Towson, which had won five of six to close the regular season after being down to seven scholarship players earlier this season, finished 12-18. Mathews inherited a program that was one of the worst in college basketball and had four winning seasons in the last seven.
“I take pride in the fact that I’m leaving it a lot better than I had when I received it,” said Mathews, a 1983 Page County High School graduate. “And whoever the coach is who gets here … this cupboard is not bare.”
At the end of the game, Mathews and Brooks — who are friends and have known each other for years — met in front of the scorers’ table and embraced for about 30 seconds.
“I learned so much from him, and I really appreciate everything he’s done for this league, for women’s basketball, and it’s just a shame, because I think that team is going to be a tremendous team next year,” Brooks said. “And I wish that he could have been the one that guided them into [Towson’s new basketball arena], ’cause he deserves it.”
Junior guard Tanisha McTiller led Towson with a game-high 27 points, scoring nine points in the final 39 seconds — all on 3-pointers.
Peebles 4-11 5-6 13, Williams 1-6 0-6 2, Johnson 2-13 0-0 4, McTiller 7-16 8-9 27, Berger 0-7 0-0 0, Alberson 1-5 0-2 2, Smith 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 15-60 13-23 48.
Giggetts 3-8 1-2 7, Hall 5-12 4-4 16, Burkholder 3-16 2-3 10, Hislop 5-21 3-4 13, Gwathmey 0-5 5-6 5, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Ross 0-3 0-0 0, Shepherd 3-5 0-0 6, Mickens 1-2 0-1 2. Totals 20-72 15-20 59.
Halftime—James Madison 24-15. 3-Point Goals—Towson 5-20 (Johnson 0-4, McTiller 5-9, Berger 0-5, Alberson 0-2), James Madison 4-16 (Hall 2-4, Burkholder 2-10, Hislop 0-1, Gwathmey 0-1). Fouled Out—Towson (Johnson). Rebounds—Towson 55 (Williams 14), James Madison (Gwathmey 14). Assists—Towson 8 (Johnson 6), James Madison 7 (Hislop, Mickens 2). Total Fouls—Towson 17, James Madison 16. A—NA.