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STILLWATER, Okla., --James Madison battled to the end but came up a little short in a 75-68 loss at Oklahoma State in the Women's National Invitational Tournament championship game Saturday afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena.
The Dukes, who trailed by 17 points with under 13 minutes to play, cut the margin to four with 28 seconds left but could not close the gap any further.
JMU ended its season with a 29-8 record, while Oklahoma State finished with a 22-12 record.
The Cowgirls outscored JMU 38-20 in the paint, led by a game-high 25 points by junior forward Toni Young, who scored many of her points on layups. OSU shot 48.3 percent (29-60) from the field, while JMU hit only 35.4 percent (23-65).
JMU was led by junior guard Tarik Hislop (Silver Spring, Md./Paint Branch) with team-highs of 16 points and four assists. Senior forward Kiara Francisco (Lakeland, Fla./Winter Haven) came off the bench for 14 points, and junior forward Nikki Newman (Harrisonburg, Va./Turner Ashby) had 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Redshirt senior forward Lauren Whitehurst (Chesapeake, Va./Indian River) added 10 points.
OSU had three other players score in double figures, with sophomore guard Tiffany Bias scoring 17 and handing out a game-high 11 assists. Freshman forward Liz Donohoe added 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and junior forward Lindsey Keller scored 10.
The Dukes led 9-4 early but the Cowgirls used a 15-2 scoring run to push ahead to a 23-13 lead with 7:39 left in the opening half.
In the second half OSU had a run of eight unanswered points that gave the Cowgirls their biggest lead of the day, 55-38, with 12:34 remaining.
Francisco sparked a JMU comeback in which the Dukes outscored OSU 30-17 to get within four, 72-68, with 28 seconds to go. However, forced to foul, JMU sent OSU to the foul line, where Blas hit three of four free throws in the final 24 seconds to put away the game.
Francisco scored 14 of JMU's 30 points during the run, and Hislop scored eight and Burkholder six. It was a 3-pointer by Burkholder that cut the OSU lead to four.