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20-3 Run Propels James Madison Past Liberty

December 6, 2017  Harrisonburg, Va.  RSS
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Kierra Johnson-Graham finished with seven points and a season-high eight rebounds at JMU.

Kierra Johnson-Graham finished with seven points and a season-high eight rebounds at JMU.

James Madison fashioned a 20-3 run spanning the second and third quarters, keying the Dukes' 58-47 victory over Liberty in a defensive struggle, Wednesday at the JMU Convocation Center.

Nene Johnson's pair of free throws 1:35 before halftime pulled the Lady Flames to within 25-24. However, Liberty made only one field goal over the next 7:16 as JMU broke the game open with its 20-3 surge.

The Lady Flames fell to 3-5 on the season, as they had trouble with the Dukes' defensive pressure all night. Liberty had eight shots blocked, set season lows for points scored (47) and field goal shooting percentage (32.1, 18-of-56) and missed all seven of its three-point attempts. KK Barbour, playing about 60 miles away from her hometown of Charlottesville, was the lone Lady Flame to score in double figures (12 points).

Meanwhile, four James Madison players reached double digits as the Dukes improved to 3-5 with their fourth straight head-to-head win over the Lady Flames. Reigning CAA Rookie of the Year Kamiah Smalls paced the victors with 14 points and 10 boards, while Lexie Barrier (12 points), Logan Reynolds (11 points) and Kelly Koshuta (10 points, 8 rebounds) aided the cause.

A tightly played opening quarter saw four ties and one lead change before James Madison emerged with a 15-12 edge after 10 minutes of play. JMU's Reynolds came off the bench to score her team's final five points of the stanza, while the Lady Flames' Barbour paced all players with six first-quarter points.

The Dukes remained in front throughout the second period, limiting Liberty to one made field goal over the final 4:22. JMU took a 30-25 halftime advantage after shooting 40.7 percent (11-of-27) during the first 20 minutes.

Barbour scored 10 points in the first half, but the Lady Flames made only 33.3 percent (9-of-27) of their field goal attempts and missed all three of their attempts from beyond the arc before the intermission.

James Madison scored 15 of the third quarter's first 17 points, extending its overall run to 20-3. Hailee Barron's free throw at 4:34 closed out the surge with the Dukes on top, 45-27, marking their largest lead of the contest.

JMU led 49-32 after outscoring the navy blue-clad Lady Flames, 19-7, in the third quarter. Smalls scored six points for the Dukes during the period, nearly matching Liberty's offensive output by herself.

The Lady Flames fought to the end, scoring the game's final six points to trim their deficit to 11 (58-47) at the final buzzer. The setback marked Liberty's fifth in a row away from Lynchburg since its 63-55 season-opening triumph at Old Dominion.

Liberty failed to make a three-pointer for the first time since a Dec. 13, 2013 game against Bluefield State. The Lady Flames are now 1-of-26 on triples in the last two outings.

Liberty joined nationally ranked Villanova as the only two teams to hold JMU below 60 points this season. The Dukes finished at 44 percent (22-of-50) from the floor but just 21.4 percent (3-of-14) from beyond the arc and 45.8 percent (11-of-24) from the foul line.

The Lady Flames finished with a 38-37 edge on the glass, aided by the sophomore duo Kierra Johnson-Graham (season-high eight rebounds) and Keyen Green (seven rebounds).

JMU's Kayla Cooper-Williams contributed 10 rebounds and five blocked shots off the bench.

Ola Makurat missed her first free throw attempt of the evening, halting a streak of 25 consecutive made foul shots which dated back to last season. As a result, Jaymee Fisher-Davis still owns the Liberty record, hitting 26 straight free throws between the 2012-13 and 2014-15 seasons.

Up Next
Liberty will now have a break from competition before its final non-conference home game of the season, a Dec. 16 matinee against Shippensburg (1-8). The first-ever meeting between the Lady Flames and Raiders will tip off at 4 p.m. at the Vines Center, following a 1 p.m. Liberty-Kentucky Christian men's basketball tilt.