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James Madison forward Anne Diouf struggles to evade an opponent during the game against the George Washington Colonials in Harrisonburg, VA on Wednesday, Dec. 9 2020.

In the first game action for preseason CAA favorite JMU in almost two weeks, the Dukes visited Elon’s Schar Center in what was the Phoenixes’ first game in 26 days, and their CAA opener. 

One would expect rust from the two teams after such a long lay off, but the game was off to a quick start, with fast break points going both ways. Early on, JMU dominated Elon’s four guard starting lineup on the offensive glass, specifically with graduate forwards Anne Diouf and Morgan Smith. 

The Dukes dominated the first quarter, but the Phoenixes stayed in the game by shooting 9-of-10 from the free throw stripe. During an odd sequence near the end of the first quarter, two technical fouls were called on the Dukes in the span of 30 seconds. Nonetheless, they took a five point lead into the break at 18-13.

The Phoenixes got much better looks from the field in the second quarter, coupled with getting some easy transition buckets, they cut the deficit to two with 5:40 left in the quarter. Elon tied the game at 23 two and a half minutes later despite shooting 0-of-5 from three in the first half. 

The Dukes came out of the half with a three point advantage, 26-23, and the game opened up from here. There was up and down, back and forth scoring in the third quarter. The Dukes’ 2-3 zone defense was stifling in the first half, but a faster paced game in the second half made JMU unable to set up the defense. 

Elon’s first three pointer came with 6:00 left in the third quarter. On the back of senior forward Jaylin Powell, the Phoenixes heated up from behind the arc, but a 23-point third quarter from the Dukes stretched their lead to eight points going into the fourth quarter, at 49-41. 

JMU’s lead stretched to 10, 53-43, with 9:01 remaining in the fourth quarter. Elon’s senior guard Sadia Munford seemed to keep the Phoenixes within striking distance every time the Dukes answered. 

The Dukes’ rejuvenated second half offensive flurry wouldn’t relent as they stretched the lead to 13 points with four minutes left in the game at 67-54. JMU junior guard Jaylin Carrodine hit a three point dagger with 2:55 to go, putting the game out of reach for the Phoenixes at 70-55. 

JMU’s reigning CAA freshman player of the year and do-it-all sophomore guard Kiki Jefferson filled up the stat sheet for the Dukes, finishing with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Current freshman sensation Peyton McDaniel logged 12 points, including two buckets from three point range. 

Freshman guard Jamia Hazell, led the bench with 8 points. Eleven of the 12 Dukes that entered the game scored points; JMU was giving bench players a lot of playing time today likely to keep the players fresh for their double header. 

For Elon, Sadia Munford and junior guard Brie Perpignan led the Phoenixes with 21 and 18 points, respectively. 

With the win, the Dukes advance to 6-3 on the season and 2-0 in CAA conference play. Elon drops to 4-3 on the season, and 0-1 in conference play. The two teams play each other again Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Elon. 

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