‘Soft’ Dukes Lose
Spiders Win 70-66; Madison Now 3-4
Posted: December 3, 2012
JMU's Toia Giggetts passes as Richmond defenders clamp down Sunday. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
On Sunday, JMU reverted to its struggling ways, losing 70-66 to Richmond in front of 2,047 fans at the Convocation Center.
“Very disappointed with where we are right now,” JMU coach Kenny Brooks said. “...We’re still trying to find our identity, and right now, we’re soft, and I hate to mention that and I hate to say that, but that’s reality, and we’re not playing tough basketball.”
The Dukes (3-4) gave up career highs to Richmond guards Kristina King (29 points) and Becca Wann (21), and the Spiders (5-4) shot 43.5 percent in the second half. They also out-rebounded JMU 51-43 and limited Madison to just 28.8 percent shooting. The Dukes, though, took 73 shots to UR’s 59.
“Right now, scoring’s really not our main focus,” JMU senior point guard Tarik Hislop said. “I would say defensively is where our focus is, and we need to get a lot better defensively. We’re giving up too many points to struggle scoring.”
Hislop led the Dukes with 22 points and four assists (JMU had only eight), continuing a hot streak that started in Cancun, where she scored 30 or more points in two of the three games. Junior guard Kirby Burkholder added 14 points, and freshman guard Precious Hall had a career-high 11.
The Dukes gave up a lot of fast breaks and played poor interior defense — a result of their continuing struggles to find any kind of frontcourt threat — allowing Richmond a free path to the hoop most of the afternoon. The Spiders, especially King, took advantage.
“Cutting and moving to the basket — also driving and finishing — that’s been a big thing for me this year,” said King, a 5-foot-10 junior guard whose previous career high was 18. Wann’s also was 18. “Like, when I go to the basket, always finishing and knocking down free throws. The team, when we were cutting and moving the basketball, we were seeing the open man, and so, we’d cut low. They’d be open, and we were able to make the pass and finish.”
Said Brooks: “Our post play is just really not good right now. It’s really non-existent. It has no presence. … Last year, [Lauren] Whitehurst would do a good job of erasing mistakes we made, and this year, we’re not getting that, and our defense is totally different than it was last year.”
Hislop made a heavily contested layup with 2:45 left in the game to put the Dukes up 61-60. At that point, Madison hadn’t led since the 9:29 mark in the first half. That basket was set up by a pair of free throws from freshman guard Angela Mickens.
But the Dukes’ lead was brief. Less than 20 seconds letter, Richmond’s Rachael Bilney — the Spiders’ leading scorer who had no points in the first half — hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put UR up for good.
James Madison, which never trailed by more than eight points, nearly rallied, though. The Dukes, thanks to an effective press, cut Richmond’s lead to 68-66 with five seconds to go on a 3 from Hall. Forced to foul to stop the clock, JMU put King on line, and she hit both free throws in the double bonus to make it a two-possession game with 4.2 seconds left and seal the win.
The Spiders had 23 turnovers to Madison’s 13, but JMU couldn’t make the turnovers hurt, especially late.
“I told them to relax a bit,” Richmond coach Michael Shafer said. “I thought that we kind of panicked. We weren’t meeting our passes. We were kind of just slinging it around. I think the atmosphere got a hold of us a little bit, and once we called timeout and settled them down a little bit, we were able to catch our passes, meet the ball and go on the attack a little more.”
As for JMU’s rhythm?
“We played well in Cancun,” Hislop said. “To say we found a rhythm, I’d disagree with that. It would have rolled over [into] today, and it didn’t.”
NOTE: Senior forward Nikki Newman moved into second place on JMU’s career blocks list Sunday. The Turner Ashby High School graduate now has 120.
Dannelly 1-4 2-2 4, Brown 1-3 2-2 4, Soppe 0-2 0-0 0, King 10-19 8-10 29, R. Bilney 3-8 0-0 7, Nichols 0-1 0-0 0, Powell 0-0 0-0 0, Tolson 1-5 3-5 5, S. Bilney 0-0 0-0 0, Wann 6-17 7-8 21. Totals 22-59 22-27 70.
Ross 1-3 0-0 2, Newman 2-7 2-4 6, Burkholder 5-17 2-2 14, Hislop 7-19 7-10 22, Gwathmey 0-7 1-2 1, Gill 0-5 2-2 2, Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Giggetts 0-2 0-0 0, Hall 5-9 0-0 11, Mickens 1-4 6-9 8. 21-73 20-29 66.
Halftime score—Richmond 31-28. 3-Point Goals—Richmond 4-14 (King 1-3, R. Bilney 1-4, Nichols 0-1, Tolson 0-2, Wann 2-4), James Madison 4-16 (Newman 0-1, Burkholder 2-8, Hislop 1-3, Gill 0-1, Hall 1-3). Fouled Out—James Madison, Newman. Rebounds— Richmond 51 (Wann 15), James Madison 43 (Ross 10). Assists—Richmond 9 (Nichols, Tolson 3), James Madison 8 (Hislop 4). Total Fouls—Richmond 21, James Madison 19. A—2,047.