Women's basketball falls to James Madison, 71-55 in lopsided home loss

Senior guard Rahneeka Saunders drives to the basket against JMU guard Tarik Hislop. (Photo by John Irwin.)
Senior guard Rahneeka Saunders drives to the basket against JMU guard Tarik Hislop. (Photo by John Irwin.)

Despite putting in an impressive first half display and registering 21 bench points on the night, the George Mason University women’s basketball team suffered a lopsided home loss, falling 71-55 to Colonial Athletic Association rival James Madison University.

Senior guard Rahneeka Saunders was the only player who scored in double figures for the Patriots (6-11, 1-5 CAA), registering 14 points and eight rebounds. Saunders was supported by reserves junior Janaa Pickard and senior Melissa Collier, who each scored nine points.

Freshman guard Precious Hall and junior Kirby Burkholder led the scoring for the Dukes. Hall finished with 20 points and seven steals while Burkholder contributed 20 points and seven rebounds. Senior guard Tarik Hislop and senior forward Kanita Shepherd, along with Hall and Burkholder scored all but 10 of James Madison’s points in the winning effort.

Although it was Mason who opened the scoring in the game with a 3-point field goal by Saunders 1:29 into the first stanza, the Dukes quickly took control of the tempo. Although they struggled from the field, numerous turnovers by the Patriots allowed the Dukes to build a five-point lead, their largest of the half, at 12-7 with 12:13 to play in the first period.

The Dukes managed to hold this margin until 15-10 with just under 10 minutes to play, but that is when Mason’s full-court pressure efforts started to pay off. The Patriots held their opponents without a field goal for nearly six minutes while also forcing five turnovers. At the same time, Mason managed to go on a 9-0 run to take their largest lead at 19-15.

JMU opened the second half on a hot shooting streak with four 3-point field goals on a 12-4 run. It only got worse for the Patriots as JMU opened another 10-0 run, turning the game into a one-sided 52-28 contest with just under 14 to play. JMU finished the game shooting 58.3 percent from behind the arc---the fourth time the Dukes have shot over 50 percent from three-point range this season. The Dukes (11-7, 5-1) have won all of their road conference games. 

After the game, Mason coach Jeri Porter and her team quickly left the court. None of the Patriots were available for comment.

Mason closes its current home stand against Georgia State Panthers this upcoming Sunday, Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. James Madison will also play at home this weekend, facing the Hofstra University Pride in Harrisonburg, Va. The tip-off for the game is 5:30 p.m. 

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