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JMU roundup: Drexel edges Dukes in women's hoops


Daily Staff Reports - sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- Senior guard/forward Hollie Mershon hit two free throws with four seconds left to lift Drexel (9-4, 2-0) to a 48-46 win at James Madison (7-7, 1-1) in Colonial Athletic Association women's basketball Thursday evening at the JMU Convocation Center.

The loss ended JMU's overall winning streak at four games and also ended a three-game home winning streak.

Mershon led all players with 20 points and was the only Drexel player to score in double figures. Senior forward Taylor Wootton and senior guard Renee Johnson-Allen each scored nine points, and Johnson-Allen finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.

JMU's only double-figure scorer was senior guard Tarik Hislop with 13 points. Freshman guard Precious Hall added nine points, and junior guard Kirby Burkholder was the Dukes' leading rebounder with nine.

Drexel, which trailed by as many at 15 points in the first half and 13 in the second, outscored the Dukes 16-6 in the final 5:57 to pull out the win. Mershon scored eight of those points, including back-to-back baskets at 1:47 and 0:59 which tied the game at 45-45.

JMU sophomore forward/center Crystal Ross made the second of two free throws with 23.2 seconds left for a 46-45 Dukes lead. Then Drexel senior forward Nicki Jones made a foul shot with 9.6 seconds left to tie the game at 46-46.

Jones missed her second free throw, but JMU sophomore forward Toia Giggetts fell out of bounds as she tried to control the rebound, giving the Dragons possession. After Drexel inbounded the ball, Mershon was fouled and converted the two free throws for the win. A 3-point attempt by Hislop at the buzzer missed the mark.

JMU did not trail in the game until Mershon's game-winning foul shots.

In the first half, the Dukes used a 16-4 run to pull away to a 15-point advantage, 27-12, at 3:02, and JMU led 29-18 at intermission. Hall scored eight of those 16, including back-to-back 3-pointers to finish off the run.

With JMU up by 13, 31-18, at 18:44, the Dragons outscored JMU 12-2 over a span of 8:18, with Mershon scoring seven of those. That run cut the Dukes' lead to three, 33-30, with 10:06 remaining.

Burkholder, who entered the game averaging just under 15 points, scored her only points of the night as she tallied six during a 7-2 run that put the Dukes ahead 40-32 with 8:11 left.

Drexel, which leads the CAA and ranks 24th in the NCAA in free-throw percentage, knocked down eight of nine foul shots in the final 3:30. For the game the Dragons hit 11 of 15 foul shots, while JMU converted only seven of 13 attempts.

Football

TAMPA, Fla. -- James Madison offensive guard Earl Watford has accepted an invitation to play in the 88th East-West Shrine Game. The game will be held Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., kicking off at 4 p.m. and televised live on NFL Network.

Watford joins an elite list of football greats, such as John Elway, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, and 62 NFL Hall of Famers, who have played in the East-West Shrine Game along with 52 players currently on active NFL rosters.

Volleyball

HARRISONBURG -- James Madison volleyball head coach Lauren Steinbrecher announced Thursday that associate head coach Ron Sweet has accepted the head coaching position at Wofford College.

Sweet served as a JMU assistant coach for the past three seasons, joining the team in March of 2010.

"I am very excited for Ron and his future as Wofford's head coach," Steinbrecher said in a news releas. "Both Ron and his wife, Jenni, have been an instrumental part of the success we have had over the past three seasons here at JMU. I can't wait to see everything he accomplishes in his new position."

Sweet helped lead a program that went 55-35 during his three seasons, including a 23-17 mark against Colonial Athletic Association opponents. The Dukes reached the semifinals of the CAA Championship in all three season and in 2010-11 became the first JMU team to post back-to-back 20-plus win seasons since 1999-2000.



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