Hall making most of senior season at JMU

HARRISONBURG — When asked what his team would look like if redshirt senior Precious Hall hadn’t returned to the team this year, James Madison University head women’s basketball coach Sean O’Regan said he couldn’t give an answer.

“It would be tough for me to imagine, so I’ll just answer thank God she is,” the first-year coach said after Wednesday’s 74-60 win over College of Charleston. “Because I really don’t know we would be somebody totally different. So I’m just very thankful that she trusted me and she trusted the program to get her where she’s looking to get.”

Hall was honored before the game as the team’s only senior on senior night. Last year, Hall missed the entire season after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the preseason.

Hall could have left and went to another program, including following her former coach Kenny Brooks to Virginia Tech. However, Hall chose to stay at JMU and it’s paid off for her.

The 5-foot-8 redshirt senior guard is averaging 23.3 points per game this season. She entered Wednesday night’s game seventh in the NCAA in scoring this year, and she is second in scoring all-time in JMU women’s basketball history.

The Dukes (22-7) were struggling early in the third quarter and trailing by eight to Charleston on Wednesday. Hall, who missed most of the first half with foul trouble, ignited the team with 12 points in the third quarter to help JMU pull away.

O’Regan said that all the players follow Hall’s lead.

“It’s an unwavering confidence. That’s who she is. That’s why she’s one of the best players in the country,” O’Regan said. “And that’s what we play with. They all look to her for that. I got on her about her body language in the first half, because it starts with her and then it’s Amber (Porter) and then it’s Logan’s (Reynolds) and then I think it trickles down. I told them I want to push the limit of cocky. I don’t want to go cocky, but I want to push the limit right up there to cocky in how high our confidence is.”

Hall said that the senior night ceremony was special, but knowing that she still has more home games kept her from getting too emotional. JMU will host the Colonial Athletic Association tournament next week.

“(O’Regan) was crying more than I was,” Hall said with a laugh. “I had to tell him to chill out. That made me not cry because I knew I had three more games at the Convo and I kind of like to keep that in my mindset. I just go out there and play my all. And just to see everyone who came out here to support me was an amazing feeling.”

The Dukes (22-7) have four sophomores and four freshman on the team. O’Regan said the players really look up to Hall and learna lot from her.

Freshman Lexie Barrier said that Hall has been a great role model for her and the other freshmen.

“She’s always talking about being more aggressive, your shots are going to fall. You need to be confident in yourself in everything you do,” Barrier said. “When you get a boost like that from one of your best players it really makes you feel good.”

Hall scored a career-high 46 points against Rutgers on Dec. 5, which set a JMU record. She is also averaging 5.6 rebounds per game and has 68 assists and 42 steals this season.

JMU will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s CAA tournament. They will play at 5 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Wednesday’s first round game between No. 7 seed UNC-Wilmington and No. 10 seed College of Charleston.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com