Friday, November 14, 2014

Whoa! Big wins by James Madison, George Mason

Confession time.

We were in the midst of writing this post about the potential for this James Madison team to upset No. 23 UCLA and we were looking for pics to go with it. It was a little after 2 p.m. on Friday and guess what we didn't realize? The game started at 1. A glance at the halftime score had us deflated. It was 40-28 UCLA.

It's early, we reminded ourselves. This JMU team still has plenty of time to ..... wait a minute. They're coming back. In case you missed it, as we almost did, it was JMU 91, UCLA 87 in overtime.

Now just as we weren't going to make a huge deal had JMU lost, well, we won't get too carried away with the win. After all, we don't really call it an upset. JMU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year. UCLA didn't have a winning record. But this will no doubt an eye-opening win for the Dukes, who bested the team that boasts the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation in a trio of freshmen who are McDonald's All-Americans.

But at the Convo on Friday, it was a veteran Dukes cast that shined, as in 25 points and 12-of-12 from the line for Precious Hall. As in 16 points and 16 boards for senior Lauren Okafor. As in 16 points for Toia Giggetts. As in nine points and seven assists for Angela Mickens. As in 15 points for Jazmon Gwathmey, and as in sure, Destiny Jones had 10 points, but man, what a steal at just the right time to put JMU in position to tie it up in regulation.

If there were any questions about JMU post Kirby and Nikki, they were answered in this one. We miss those guys for sure, but these guys are going to be all right this season -- versatile, balanced and already battled tested one game into the season. Sure, we'd like to see JMU improve from behind the arc (4-of-20) and Okafur (4-of-10 FT) needs to work on the freebies, but we'll take this win and look for another against an underrated St. Bonaventure team on Sunday.

And while this was our game of the night, we also salute George Mason for its 77-69 victory over Virginia Tech -- the biggest victory in the short tenure of Coach Nyla Milleson. Hard to do much more than gawk at Taylor Brown's effort of 35 points and 11 boards (though we're sure Dennis Wolff wasn't thrilled about the Hokies going to the line eight times compared to the Patriots' 32 trips). The good news for Tech is that freshman Reagan Magarity tallied 25 points with seven boards in her collegiate debut.

The better news is it's only just beginning.

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