JMU roundup: Dukes clinch top seed in women’s CAA hoops tournament

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The No. 23/21 James Madison University women’s basketball cruised to an 85-49 victory at North Carolina-Wilimington on Thursday night, clinching the top seed in next month’s Colonial Athletic Association championship tournament.

The Dukes moved to 23-2 overall and 14-0 in CAA action, securing at least a share of the 2015 CAA regular-season title. The Seahawks dropped to 10-15 overall and 6-8 against CAA teams.

After JMU was unable to get further than four points away from UNCW through the opening six minutes of the game, the Dukes used a 15-5 run to take their first double-digit lead of the day, capped by an old-fashioned three-point play by junior guard Precious Hall at the 7:30 mark of the first half.

The Dukes led by as many as 13 points twice in the first half before a 6-2 spurt by the Seahawks cut the JMU lead back to single digits (34-26, 1:02). A pair of free throws by Hall to close the half pushed Madison back to a double-digit lead for good, heading into the locker room with a 36-26 advantage.

Hall scored 17 points over the first 20 minutes of play, including 13 of the last 15 JMU points before halftime. She continued that stretch by scoring the first five points of the second half and finished with a game-high 25 points for the Dukes. The junior guard has now scored 520 points this season, the 13th highest single-season total in JMU history.

Junior guard Ashley Perez tallied 13 points on the evening, shooting 5-of-10 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the line. Redshirt-junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey rounded out the double-digit scoring for JMU with 11 points. Freshman guard Hailee Barron was just one point shy of her career high at nine points, sinking of 3-of-4 attempts from range.

As a team, JMU shot 43.7 percent from the floor (31-of-71) with a 60.7 percent showing from the free throw line (17-of-28). UNCW was limited to 35.5 percent shooting (22-of-62) from the floor and 33.3 percent shooting (2-of-6) from the free throw line.

The Dukes return home on Sunday to take on third-place Hofstra at 2 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center.