WASHINGTON – The American University women's basketball team fell just short of an upset over nationally ranked James Madison on Thursday evening, dropping a 69-65 decision to the Dukes in Bender Arena.
Ashley Mickens banked a three-pointer off the glass with just 5.2 seconds remaining to secure the victory for the Dukes, who received votes in the latest AP poll and are ranked 23rd in this week's USA Today Coaches Poll.
Sophomore Jordan Light led four AU players with double-digit scoring totals, finishing with a career-high 15 points that included a 4-of-4 performance from beyond the arc. Senior Jen Dumiak added 14 points and a team-leading six rebounds, while seniors Shaquilla Curtis and Arron Zimmerman each pitched in 12 points.
The game was close throughout, featuring seven ties and nine lead changes. AU was on top early in the contest, taking a 10-4 advantage at the 13:30 mark in the first half. However, JMU came charging back with a 22-8 run to go up by eight with just under seven minutes remaining in the period.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Zimmerman brought the Eagles back within two points and Light added a pair of treys in the final three and a half minutes of the half, as the teams went into the locker room tied at 34-34.
The second half was another back-and-forth affair, with the Dukes leading by as many as four points, while AU earned a 57-52 advantage with just under eight minutes to play. It was JMU that led down the stretch, going up 66-63 with 1:37 on the clock. A basket by Michelle Holmes cut AU's deficit to one point, but a turnover on the Eagles' next possession gave JMU an opportunity at the winning basket.
American (0-2) shot an impressive 51.1 percent from the field while limiting JMU to 39.2 percent, and knocked down six-of-13 three-point attempts. The Eagles also shot well at the foul line, converting 13-of-16 attempts. However, the Dukes dominated on the boards, outrebounding the Eagles 46-23 for the game.
For JMU, which improved to 3-0 on the season, Jazmon Gwathmey led the way with 22 points. Precious Hall added 16 points and Lauren Okafor registered nine points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
"I think defensively, [our team] executed the game plan that we asked them to, and they did it with one day to prepare, which I was really proud of," said American head coach Megan Gebbia. "I think it speaks volumes of our upperclassmen. They believed that we could do it.
"We battled on the boards, it's just that [JMU is] bigger, stronger, a little bit more athletic than us. If you took one stat of the game, rebounding would be the difference to me as to why we lost. But I'm not going to take anything away from how our kids played today."
The Eagles are back in action Sunday, when they host Princeton in a 7 p.m. contest.