Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Five memorable wins from Kenny Brooks at JMU

photo courtesy of The Breeze
By now you've probably read a bunch of places that Kenny Brooks, hired as Virginia Tech coach on Monday, won 337 games at James Madison, including five Colonial Athletic Association titles.

What's your most memorable Brooks victory? Here five that jump to mind:

James Madison 79, Old Dominon 50 (Feb. 7, 2007)
Brooks notched his first win over the CAA superpower in 2003 (98-95 in OT), but this one was a stunning statement in Harrisonburg behind 21 points from Meredith Alexis. It wasn't only the JMU band that had Wendy Larry on edge; the Dukes used a monster 20-3 second-half run to leave no doubt. It was ODU's worst conference loss since joining the CAA in 1992. Tamera Young and Shirley McCall each added 15.

We highlight this win because it speaks to what how the  rivalry between the two schools tilted. While ODU leads 52-25, JMU has won the last five over the Lady Monarchs, seven of the last eight and 10 of the last 12. Brooks finished 13-15 against ODU -- an extremely respectable stat given how the Lady Monarchs used to dominate their former conference.

James Madison 79, Georgetown 76 (Nov. 18, 2009)
The Dukes trailed by 16 before a rally sparked by Dawn Evans, who scored seven of her 29 points in the final minute. Sugar Rodgers, still an active WNBA player, hit a 3 with 1:03 remaining for a 74-72 Hoya lead. Evans nailed a 3 at the other end, and Kanita Shepherd blocked Rodgers' next attempt in the paint. A second possession gave Rodgers another shot, but after her miss, Evans tipped the ball to Kiara Francisco and closed out the game 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.

James Madison 75, Virginia 73 (Dec. 6, 2009)
You had to say "that'll do" to Dawn Evans, whose 38 points was a school record and kept JMU perfect with a 6-0 start to the season. After the Cavaliers led 56-50, Virginia went cold, scoring just one point in a span of 6:17. JMU converted 15 of 16 from the stripe. Sarah Williams was a starter back then, scoring seven in a win made even sweeter as it came in Charlottesville versus a team led by Monica Wright, who scored 31. While we picked this win over Virginia, the following season Evans amassed 42 with eight assists to defeat the Cavs in Harrisonburg 82-80 in another classic.

James Madison 74, Syracuse 71 (WNIT semifinals, March 29, 2012)
"Nobody backed down and that's the reason we won," Brooks said at the time. The Dukes won a school-record 29 games in front of 4,008 at the Convo, sending them into the WNIT championship game with Oklahoma State. Newman produced 10 points with 11 boards, Burkholder 18 points, 7 rebounds and Lauren Whitehurst, 12 points 7 boards. Harrisonburg fell in love with this resilient bunch, which got to the NCAA tournament two years later.

James Madison 72, Gonzaga 63 (NCAA tournament, March, March 23, 2014)
The Dukes earned their first NCAA tournament victory since 1991 behind 29 points and 18 rebounds from Kirby Burkholder. Nikki Newman was all over the floor and Toia Giggetts recorded her 25th straight double-double as JMU, an 11 seed, knocked out the sixth-seeded Zags. This was a good enough team to go deeper but the Dukes matched up against Texas A&M on its home floor in the second round.

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