Hall, Dukes rally past Cougars in regular-season finale

HARRISONBURG — Coming off a loss, James Madison University’s young women’s basketball team was put to the test again Wednesday.

The Dukes rallied from an eight-point third quarter deficit and pulled out a 74-60 victory over College of Charleston in Colonial Athletic Association action. It was the regular-season finale for both teams.

JMU was coming off a 62-53 loss to William & Mary on Sunday, and head coach Sean O’Regan said that he thought the loss carried over into Wednesday’s game in the first half.

“What I thought this was, was it was not who we were in the first half and the last game and then we finally broke out of that,” O’Regan said. “I’m not sure why we fell into it in the first place, but we really broke out of it in the second half. And I told Precious (Hall) it starts with her and the level of confidence we all play with. I was really pleased with finally turning the switch on on the defensive end and the hustle plays and the little plays that we talked about so much in the last two days. That was the reason we really got going.”

It was senior night for JMU’s lone senior Hall, who was honored before the game, and after a slow start she made the most of it.

Hall, the second-leading scorer in JMU history and one of the tops in the NCAA this season, ignited a 27-9 run which helped the Dukes pull away.

The senior guard had been struggling with her shot and foul trouble most of the game, and was coming off a dismal 4-for-24 from the field performance on Sunday.

She scored 23 of her 25 points in the second half.

On two consecutive possessions, Hall made four free throws to bring JMU within one, 39-38, with 2:58 left in the third quarter.

The game completely changed after that. After a 3-pointer by Charleston’s Shiclasia Brown, Hall followed with a 3-pointer of her own.

“Just seeing my first shot go in,” Hall said of her second-half turnaround. “That kind of speaks how much confidence (O’Regan) has in me. The first play of the third quarter he’s going right to me to look for a shot and just having that confidence. Your head coach is having that confidence. Your teammates are telling me to shoot the ball more. That kind of keeps me going whether it’s going in or not. Just seeing the ball go in the basket, shooting free throws, always something like that keeps me going.”

JMU’s Tasia Butler followed a Hall miss with a putback to guve JMU its first lead since early in the game.

O’Regan said he thought the play was the turning point of the game.

“It was like a waterfall after that,” O’Regan said. “(Hall’s) going to the basket. She’s getting fouled. I think we had three or four and-1’s after that.”

Hailee Baron made two free throws for JMU and Hall completed a conventional three-point play to give JMU a 48-44 lead. A layup by JMU’s Lexie Barrier extended the lead to six at the end of the third quarter.

Back-to-back baskets by Savannah Felgemacher and Hall finished off the run and gave JMU a 54-4 lead with 7:51 left.

The Dukes continued the momentum throughout the rest of the game.

Felgemacher had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Dukes.

Before the game JMU also honored junior Amber Porter, who recently scored her 1,000th point.

The Dukes will be the No. 2 seed in next week’s CAA women’s basketball tournament, which will be held at JMU.

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