JMU women’s basketball had a team-oriented 76-35 win over the College of Charleston on Friday. The Dukes had 11 different players get on the score sheet, with redshirt junior guard Jackie Benitez leading the way with 11 points.
Head coach Sean O’Regan was proud with the balanced scoring. Even though he doesn’t expect it to happen every game, it shows this team’s depth. After recruiting players like freshman guard Eleanore Marciszewski, sophomore guard Tori Harris and sophomore forward Breyenne Bellerand, O’Regan is aware of his team’s strong bench.
“I’m really working myself through subbing,” O’Regan said. “I believe in them as players … I’m trying to squeeze them in because Tori can help us, has helped us win games before. I’ve seen Eleanore in practice do things like [scoring nine points in eight minutes].”
Senior guard Logan Reynolds also appreciated the all-around offense with some of the bench players getting involved. Reynolds tallied four points, nine assists and four steals. The bench contributed 40 points.
“We understand our roles individually,” Reynolds said. “We make it a point to make it a team effort with everything we do and so it’s not a surprise to us when people step up and knock down shots and everybody gets involved. We’re excited for them with everything they did.”
Reynolds and redshirt junior center Kayla Cooper Williams’ efforts on the defensive end also helped JMU push through some offensive struggles. Cooper Williams had nine points, 12 rebounds and added five blocks to her program record.
“I think those are two all-defensive team kids,” O’Regan said. “I think Kayla is a defensive player of the year … those two are great but it’s a team effort, you can’t have a backside steal without somebody fronting the post. I think we all care about the defensive end and that’s what made us so special.”
JMU had 11 steals and eight blocks against the Cougars. The Dukes, which are second best in the nation in defensive field goal percentage, held the Cougars to just 23 percent shooting from the field. Reynolds feels that the team’s approach to defense is what separates them from competitors.
“I think [defense is] ingrained in JMU women’s basketball,” Reynolds said. “We take pride in our defense and we know it’s a team effort, so we feed off each other and that translates directly into offense.”
Even though the Dukes won by 41 points, there was some struggles at times during this game. There were stretches where the offense didn’t flow as it normally does. In the second and fourth quarters, the Dukes struggled to shoot the three ball. Junior guard Kamiah Smalls — who scored 10 points on 4-for-8 shooting — felt that those struggles came down to a combination of things.
“It’s February, we’re trying to find ways to push through,” Smalls said. “People’s bodies are tired, you’ve got seniors putting it on the line … your body has got to adjust to these kinds of games, we’re playing at 12 o’clock, we were up this morning around 7, so you’ve got to adjust and find your balance.”
JMU moves to 19-4 (11-1 CAA) and pushes its home winning streak to 24 games. The Dukes return to the Convocation Center on Sunday to play UNCW at 2 p.m.
Contact Brandon Ellis email@example.com For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.