Duke Dog

JMU now looks to rebound against Villanova.

JMU women’s basketball (1-3) stayed with Saint Joseph’s throughout today’s game, but couldn’t string baskets together towards the end in a 73-66 loss. The Dukes allowed the Hawks to shoot 51 percent and had no answer for St. Joe’s junior guard/forward Sarah Veilleux and have now lost two in a row. On the other hand, JMU shot 15 more shots than Saint Joseph’s and grabbed 19 offensive rebounds, but only shot 36.8 percent from the floor.

“I don’t think tonight that our defense played off of our offense,” sophomore guard Kamiah Smalls said. “We are disappointed in ourselves because we know what we are capable of.” 

JMU was led by Smalls, who had a career-high 22 points on 8-of-21 shooting. Smalls also led JMU in rebounds with nine. Redshirt senior forward Tasia Butler and sophomore forward Devon Merritt had a big impact on the game, both playing upward of 20 minutes and shooting above 50 percent from the floor. Butler finished with seven points and nine rebounds. Merritt, in the first start of her career, had nine points on 4-of-6 shooting and one block.

But aside from Smalls, Butler and Merritt, the Dukes struggled to consistently shoot the ball. Sophomore guard Lexie Barrier had perhaps the worst day of anyone on the floor, finishing 2 for 15 with eight points. Barrier didn’t hit any of her four 3-point attempts and missed three free throws. The guard from Ohio picked up two early fouls and never seemed to find her rhythm after the calls.

“I think the foul trouble screwed up her flow,” head coach Sean O’Regan said. “You’ve got to learn to play with the two fouls, but my confidence in her doesn’t change at all.”

In the end, JMU had trouble stopping the Saint Joseph’s offense that shot 27 for 53 from the field, including making 55 percent of its 3-pointers. The Hawks were led by Veilleux, who had 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting, including sinking five of her six three-pointers. Senior guard/forward Chelsea Woods added on another 23 points to give St. Joe’s a two-headed monster that gave the Dukes trouble.

“Sarah found her shots early and often and that’s what shooters do,” Saint Joseph’s head coach Cindy Griffin said. “Chelsea did what she does and got to the line because she causes so many matchup problems.”

Throughout the game, the Hawks held a four to six-point lead, until they broke open an 11-4 run in the fourth quarter that put the Dukes away for good. Saint Joseph’s assisted on 17 of its 27 field goals while the Dukes just managed six assists on their 25 made field goals.

Up next, JMU will travel to Vermont to play Villanova in the TD Bank Classic on Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m. Saint Joseph’s will play its home opener against Eastern Illinois in the Gator Holiday Classic on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m.

Notes: Junior guard Logan Reynolds missed the game with a minor injury and is expected to make the trip to Vermont with the team.

Contact Harry Holtzclaw at holtzchw@dukes.jmu.edu. For more JMU women’s basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter at @TheBreezeSports.