JMU Women’s Basketball Blows Out Southern Miss, Advances To Sun Belt Semis

Image courtesy of JMU Athletics Communications

By Bennett Conlin

When Peyton McDaniel made two 3-pointers (and attempted four) in the first 95 seconds of Friday’s Sun Belt quarterfinal game between JMU women’s basketball and Southern Miss, it became clear the Dukes weren’t bashfully entering the conference tournament.

“I thought she might shoot 60 3s today, and I would’ve been happy with all 60,” head coach Sean O’Regan said postgame. “Mentality was right today … I thought we were the aggressor right from the start.”

Aggressive is apt word choice by O’Regan. The reigning Sun Belt champions arrived in Pensacola with heightened energy, cruising to the Sun Belt semifinals by overwhelming Southern Miss in a 77-49 win. McDaniel paced the Dukes with 21 points and 11 rebounds.

JMU didn’t hesitate to take open shots or attack the glass. The Dukes led 24-8 after a quarter and 44-10 at one point in the second quarter. The game was essentially over by halftime.

“The moment we came out, it was like, ‘OK, we’re here to play,” O’Regan said.

Elite defense and rebounding

JMU’s defensive energy was apparent, although O’Regan (in typical head coach fashion) said he wasn’t pleased with about eight minutes of defensive play.

Despite tough grading from their head coach, the Dukes held the Golden Eagles to just 26.6% shooting over the full 40 minutes. Southern Miss committed 19 turnovers, and the Dukes tied a season-high against a Division I opponent with 58 rebounds. They posted a +25 rebounding margin.

“Our team understands when we defend and rebound like this, we put ourselves [in] a chance to win,” O’Regan said.

Kseniia Kozlova grabbed four of the Dukes’ 58 rebounds, returning from injury and playing for the first time since Feb. 11. She played 12 minutes, scoring three points. Her presence is an added bonus, especially with Ashanti Barnes and Anna Goodman also playing exceptionally in the post. That duo combined for 22 points and 12 rebounds on 9-14 shooting.

Up next

JMU advances to Sunday’s semifinal round, and the Dukes will face No. 7 Louisiana. The game will tip off at 3 p.m. ET and air on ESPN+.

JMU won the lone regular season meeting between the teams in January. The Dukes won 77-72 in overtime in Harrisonburg.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Christopher William Jewelers for their advertising support.

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