CHARLOTTESVILLE - Kirby Burkholder scored a game-high 25 points, making a career-best seven 3-pointers, in the James Madison women's basketball team's game Friday against Virginia.
Sadly for JMU, that was about it.
The Dukes fell flat - and hard - in their season opener, getting blown out, 78-57, by U.Va. in front of 4,361 fans at John Paul Jones Arena.
"I just kept thinking, 'It couldn't get any worse, it couldn't get any worse," JMU coach Kenny Brooks said.
But it always did.
JMU shot just 32.7 percent from the floor (18-of-55), turned it over 28 times, went scoreless for the final 5:35 of the first half and got outscored 48-6 in the paint, all while being totally atrophied by Virginia's zone - a defense that has, historically, caused problems for the Dukes.
"We were stagnant the whole game and not attacking their zone," Brooks said. "And it really looked like we had never seen a zone before. They did a really good job and took us out of our rhythm."
Tarik Hislop, the Dukes' leading scorer last season, didn't score until the 15:32 mark in the second half and finished with just three points, going 1-for-11 from the floor.
"They just played harder than us in every aspect of the game," said Hislop, a senior point guard. "Defensively, offensively, rebounding - they played harder than us."
The Dukes' best post player Friday was Kanita Shepherd, who missed last season with a torn ACL and missed much of the preseason because of setbacks related to the ACL. The 6-foot-3 senior had seven points and four re bounds, but other than her, Madison's low post - an anticipated weakness coming into the season - was a no-show. Forward Nikki Newman got in foul trouble, and neither forward Toia Giggetts nor center Crystal Ross could get anything going down low. Giggetts finished with six points and Ross had two.
"[I'm] extremely concerned," Brooks said of JMU's frontcourt. "And especially when my best post player was a kid who hadn't practiced all year long.
We were getting the ball down there - sometimes trying to force it and didn't come up with it. It's definitely going to be a concern all year long."
The Cavaliers (1-0) took advantage of Madison's struggling low post, which also is undersized.
Sarah Imovbioh, a 6-2 forward, had her way with the Dukes, scoring 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds to lead Virginia, which out-rebounded JMU 35-30 and took advantage of the Dukes' turnovers, scoring 22 points off them. JMU scored 13 points off U.Va.'s turnovers.
Ataira Franklin added 20 points for the Cavs, whose season ended last year when JMU beat them in the WNIT quarterfinals. The Dukes are 3-2 against Virginia in the two teams' last five meetings. They went 1-1 last year, losing in Charlottesville. Franklin said the game was "personal."
"Absolutely," Franklin said. "I mean the WNIT - this had kind of been a rivalry for years. I just remember my first year; they beat us at JMU, and then last year, we beat them here, and then they beat us at JMU. And, so, it's just another opportunity and what better way to open the season [than] playing against the team that you lost to. It gave us more momentum, more hunger going into the game."
The Cavaliers closed the first half on an 18-0 run, which they stretched to a 20-0 run to start the second half. JMU trailed by as many 24 with 2:33 left in the game, and if it wasn't for Burkholder, the score would have looked a lot worse. But it wasn't enough.
"Basically, we just didn't get stops when we needed them," Burkholder said. "They got up, let them score too many in the first half, and we settled in their zone - weren't attacking and a lot of our shots weren't falling. Kind of dug ourselves a hole and couldn't get back out."
Burkholder, a 6-foot junior shooting guard, went 9-for-16 from the floor (7-of-13 from 3-point range). Five of Burkholder's 3s came in the first half, when she had 15 of the Dukes' 21 points at intermission. The Turner Ashby High School graduate - who had six of JMU's 28 turnovers - finished one point shy of her career high: 26.
"Just know where she is and stay close," Virginia coach Joanne Boyle said. "We kept losing her. If she's going to hit 25 and no one else is going to be in double figures, then it works."
JAMES MADISON (0-1) Kirby Burkholder 9-16 0-0 25; Kanita Shepherd 2-7 3-4 7; Toia Giggetts 2-6 2-2 6; Jasmine Gill 1-5 3-4 5; Nikki Newman 1-2 0-1 3; Tarik Hislop 1-11 1-2 3; Destiny Jones 0-0 2-2 2; Precious Hall 1-3 0-0 2; Jazmon Gwathmey 0-2 2-2 2; Crystal Ross 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 18-55 13-17 57. VIRGINIA (1-0) Sarah Imovbioh 8-9 5-8 21; Ataira Franklin 7-11 5-6 20; Kelsey Wolfe 2-5 6-7 10; Sarah Beth Barnette 5-7 0-0 10; China Crosby 3-7 0-1 8; Faith Randolph 2-4 1-1 5; Telia McCall 1-6 0-0 2; Jaryn Garner 0-0 2-2 2; Jazmin Pitts 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 28-52 19-25 78. James Madison 21 36 - 57 Virginia 39 39 - 78 3-point goals-James Madison 8-21 (Kirby Burkholder 7-13; Nikki Newman 1-1; oia Giggetts 0-1; Tarik Hislop 0-2; Precious Hall 0-1; Jazmon Gwathmey 0-1; anita Shepherd 0-2), Virginia 3-10 (China Crosby 2-2; Ataira Franklin 1-2; Sarah Beth Barnette 0-1; Faith Randolph 0-2; Telia McCall 0-1; Kelsey Wolfe 0-2). Fouled out-James Madison-None, Virginia-Telia McCall. Rebounds-James Madison 30 (Jasmine Gill 6; Toia Giggetts 6), Virginia 35 (Sarah Imovbioh 10). Assists-James Madison 10 (Tarik Hislop 3; Nikki Newman 3), Virginia 22 (Ataira Franklin 4; Telia McCall 4; China Crosby 4). Total fouls-James Madison 19, Virginia 19. Technical fouls-James Madison-None, Virginia-None. A-4361 UVa: McCall fouled out at 1:51 (II)
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