Women’s basketball: Tribe faces setback against JMU, 65-48

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Courtesy image / TRIBE ATHLETICS

The College won its lone game last week, at home against Elon, and looked to beat James Madison, another Colonial Athletic Association-frontrunner, Friday. The Tribe lost both contests to the Dukes last season. Meanwhile, the Dukes have lost just one game in CAA play and bounced back with a 41-point victory over Charleston last Sunday.

Jan. 25, Tribe (10-7, 3-3 CAA) managed just 15 points in the first half and could not erase a double-digit deficit in a 65-48 setback to the conference-leading Dukes (14-4, 6-1 CAA).

The College started slowly, going scoreless in the first three minutes of the game. The Dukes were able to jump out to a 5-0 advantage during this time span. However, freshman guard Eva Hodgson took a charge on the defensive end to prevent the deficit from increasing and sophomore center Gabby Rogers scored at the other end to bring the Tribe within three points, 5-2. However, the College conceded six offensive rebounds in the opening five minutes, allowing the Dukes to add to their lead through second-chance points. Meanwhile, the Tribe made just one shot before the media timeout and trailed 10-2 at the 4:53 mark. Senior guard Bianca Boggs was finally able to score after the media timeout, but the Dukes responded with six-straight points to take their first double-digit lead, 16-4. Boggs hit two free throws before the end of the quarter, but the Dukes led 17-6 after the first quarter.

The College made just two of its first 13 shots and was scoreless in the first three minutes of the second quarter, forcing head coach Ed Swanson to call for a timeout with 7:06 to play before the half. The Tribe was trailing 22-6 at this point, after guard Kamiah Smalls made her second three of the evening to put the Dukes up by 16. The Tribe did not score in the second quarter until the midway point when Hodgson drilled a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down.

The College finally crept into double-digits with three minutes to go before half, as sophomore guard Nyla Pollard knocked down a pair of free throws to make the score 26-11. Boggs had eight of the Tribe’s 15 points in the opening half, but the College’s struggles on offense resulted in a 32-15 deficit at halftime.

The Tribe got off to a better start in the second half, as Hodgson drained a jumper at the 9:02 mark. Jones made a three after taking a charge on the defensive end to bring the College within 14, but the Dukes responded immediately to reestablish a 16-point lead with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter. The Tribe managed to score 10 points in the first four minutes of the half, but the Dukes matched the College during the same time span.

The College’s offense slowed down later in the quarter, and the Dukes went back up by 20 with just over three minutes remaining in the quarter. Hodgson and Jones combined for 16 points in the third quarter, but the Dukes still maintained a comfortable lead, 50-36, going into the final quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, redshirt sophomore guard Harper Birdsong hit a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 13. That three marked Birdsong’s first points of the game. The Dukes scored seven of the next eight points to put the game out of reach with under five minutes to play, ultimately cruising to a 65-48 victory.

The Dukes were led by a balanced scoring effort, including Smalls’ 11 points and five rebounds. The Tribe was led by Hodgson’s 13 points, 10 of which came in the third quarter. Boggs made just two shots on 18 attempts, but she still nearly had a double-double with eight points and 11 boards. The College will look to avoid its first two-game skid of the season when it travels to Towson Sunday.