Turnovers Doom JMU Women’s Basketball in SBC Championship Loss to Marshall

Image courtesy of the Sun Belt Conference

By Bennett Conlin

JMU women’s basketball’s NCAA Tournament dreams were dashed Monday in heartbreaking fashion, and turnovers were to blame.

The Dukes (23-11) turned the ball over a season-high 39 times against Marshall, losing the Sun Belt Championship 95-92 in overtime.

“I’m really disappointed,” JMU head coach Sean O’Regan said. “It’s a really disappointing result. I just feel for our team.”

Nearly pulled it out

Despite the sloppy play, JMU actually led 35-32 at halftime with 17 turnovers. The Dukes deserve credit for playing excellent 3-point defense for most of the afternoon, holding the Sun Belt’s best 3-point shooting team to 17% from beyond the arc.

Defensive effort kept JMU close, and the game was tied at 52 through three quarters.

Ultimately, however, Marshall knocked down just enough 3-pointers, and the Thundering Herd snagged a ton of offensive rebounds (33), which helped them outlast JMU. Marshall shot the ball 99 times from the field, and the volume of scoring chances doomed JMU.

“There’s a game plan to beat them, and we failed to execute that game plan,” O’Regan said.

Dominating the glass (JMU had a +9 rebounding margin, but O’Regan thought it could’ve been closer to +30) and limiting turnovers were key components of the plan.

Still, the Dukes nearly won the game thanks to their effective zone defense and a few clutch offensive moments. Trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter, Peyton McDaniel turned up her offensive game. She finished with 20 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.

Hevynne Bristow added nine in the fourth quarter, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds. She was fantastic all afternoon.

“I just wish we had her for four years because she would be an absolute monster,” O’Regan said of the graduate transfer from Ohio State.

The duo kept JMU in the game, despite subpar ball handling and uncharacteristically inconsistent rebounding.

“I’ve never ever coached a game with that many turnovers in my life,” O’Regan said.

O’Regan says limited practice and preparation time in a tournament setting didn’t help with the Dukes’ plan to break Marshall’s full-court press, but the execution also fell short.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Three Notch’d Brewing for their advertising support.

Up next

JMU won’t make the NCAA Tournament, but the Dukes could make the 32-team WBIT. They’re likely on the fringe of qualifying for that NCAA-sponsored tournament.

The Dukes won’t accept an invitation to this year’s 48-team WNIT, though. That decision came from JMU’s administration, O’Regan said.

“That’s the only tournament we’ll play in,” O’Regan said of the WBIT.

The WBIT field is expected to be announced shortly after the NCAA Tournament field is announced. If JMU doesn’t receive an invitation, its season is over.

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