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Seahawk women's basketball team loses lead and chance at # 1 seed in CAA

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HARRISONBURG, VA (WWAY) -- Senior forward Lauren Jimenez scored 25 of her career-high 31 points in the second half to lead James Madison to a 79-77 victory over UNC Wilmington in Colonial Athletic Association women's basketball action Wednesday at the JMU Convocation Center.

The regular season finale for both schools, The Dukes improved to 23-7 overall and 16-2 in league play as they claimed the regular season title and secured the top seed for the upcoming Virginia 529 College Savings Plan Colonial Athletic Association Women's Basketball Championship, scheduled for March 10-13 at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md. The Seahawks closed out the regular season at 22-7 and 14-4 as they finished the regular season in a tie for second place with Old Dominion. The Seahawks will be the third seed in the championship and will face the winner of the Drexel/Towson contest in the tournament quarterfinals.

Jimenez was 7-of-8 from the floor and 11-of-12 at the charity stripe in the second half to power a JMU attack that shot 55.2 percent from the floor and 78.9 percent at the free-throw line in the final frame to overcome a four-point halftime deficit. Senior Dawn Evans added 18 points as she became the league's all-time leading scorer during the contest while sophomore Tarik Hislop chipped in 15 and senior Courtney Hamner added 12.

Junior Kristen Hanzer and freshman Alisha Andrews scored 19 points apiece for UNCW, who shot 53.4 percent for the contest, including 17-of-27 in the game's final 20 minutes. Andrews, the reigning CAA Rookie-of-the-Week, also added a career-high nine rebounds as she became the program's single-season leader in three-point field goals made with five made three-pointers in the contest.

Senior Brittany Blackwell added 16 points and senior Treasure Johnson pitched in 12 points off the bench, all of which came in the first half.

In a back-and-forth contest that featured a total of 14 ties and 11 lead changes, Jimenez scored six straight points to spark a 9-2 run with less than eight minutes remaining that erased a four-point deficit and gave JMU a 64-61 lead with 5:25 left in the contest.

The two teams traded baskets over the next 84 seconds until a pair of three-pointers by Andrews highlighted an 8-4 Seahawks spurt that lasted 76 seconds and tied the game at 72-all.

On the Dukes next possession, Evans converted a driving layup and free-throw for a conventional three-point play that gave JMU a 77-74 edge with just 1:22 remaining before junior Lauren Whitehurst was able to force a turnover on UNCW's ensuing trip down the floor to give the Dukes possession.

Jimenez was fouled and made both free-throws to extend the JMU advantage to 79-74, only to see Andrews hit a deep triple from the right elbow with 36 ticks on the clock.

On its final possession, JMU was unable to get a good look at the basket as Evans was forced to throw up a desperation three-pointer from the right side that Andrews was able to rebound and race up court with before getting off a last-second heave from mid-court that failed to find the basket.

In the first half, a jumper by sophomore Brittany Gamby at the 6:23 mark sparked a 7-0 mini-run that gave the Seahawks a 28-19 advantage with just over two minutes left to play in the opening frame.

The Dukes responded to the spurt, scoring nine of the final 13 points of the half to make it a 32-28 contest heading into the locker room and continued their strong play early in the second half, opening the frame on a 13-5 run to take a 41-37 lead with 15:03 left to play.

UNCW fought back, scoring six unanswered points to start an 11-3 run that put the Seahawks ahead, 48-44, with 12:16 on the clock. The two teams would battle back-and-forth over the next four minutes until Jimenez would hit a pair of free-throws to start the Dukes 9-2 run.

article courtesy UNCW Sports Information

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