Gray paces No. 5 Duke to win over James Madison
HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP)—Once Duke got into the flow of the game, James Madison didn’t stand a chance.
Chelsea Gray scored 15 points to lead four double-figure scorers, and the No. 5 Blue Devils survived an early surge by James Madison for a 75-58 win Tuesday night.
Krystal Thomas added 14 points and 13 rebounds her second straight double-double for the Blue Devils (7-0), who took the lead for good with a 13-2 run midway through the first half, and JMU never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
“I think we just had to settle down coming out,” said Duke’s Karima Christmas, who had 14 points. “We know their going to hit shots, so (it’s) just kind of being able to withstand that and play our game.”
Dawn Evans led the Dukes (3-3) with 20 points and four assists, and Lauren Jimenez added 19 and 11 rebounds. No other JMU player finished with more than eight points.
There were six lead changes in the first half before Duke aided by JMU turnovers went on its 13-2 run to open a 27-17 lead at the 8:02 mark. The Dukes had 11 first-half turnovers.
Evans, the nation’s second-leading scorer behind Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, struggled to find the rim in the second half after making five of 10 from the floor in the first. She finished 8-of-22 and just 2-of-11 from 3-point range.
“We had a plan of being very, very aggressive and having great team defense,” Duke coach Joanne McCallie said. “Jasmine Thomas was extremely strong in defending (Evans) and making her work for the shots she would get.”
It is the second straight game Duke has been challenged by a non-major-conference school. On Saturday, Charlotte jumped out to a 22-7 lead before Jasmine Thomas led a comeback to avert an upset.
Tuesday, the smooth senior point guard had 11 points and seven assists. The Blue Devils had 20 total—14 in the first half.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that that’s a potential Final Four team, who has very little weaknesses, if any,” JMU coach Kenny Brooks said of the Blue Devils. “I thought they shot the ball well in the first half to really push out a lead, but I thought our kids did a good job of battling and not giving up.”
In the second half, Duke maintained a double-figure lead, while JMU struggled from to make shots. For the game, the Dukes shot 36.4 percent after shooting 45.8 in the first half. In the second half, JMU made just 29 percent of its shots.
“We want to disrupt shots and make people rush and shoot poor percentages,” McCallie said. “The fact that we held them to 29 percent in the second half is the kind of thing we like to do because we try to wear people out as much as possible. I thought our team kept poise and was able to do that.”