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Sophomore Debbie Smith scored a career-high eight points in the Dukes' last game.Courtesy: Cathy Kushner/JMU Athletics Communications
Women's Basketball on the Road at Drexel, VCU
Courtesy:JMUSports.com Release:02/07/2012
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HARRISONBURG, Va., Feb. 7, 2012 - It's back-to-back road games for the James Madison women's basketball team as the Dukes travel to Drexel and Virginia Commonwealth in Colonial Athletic Association action this week. 

JMU takes on a Drexel team that already owns a win over the Dukes this season and meets a VCU squad that boasts the nation's leading rebounder.

First up is Drexel at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 9) at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, where JMU has only won twice in eight games.

Next on tap is VCU in a 2 p.m. game on Sunday (Feb. 12) at the Siegel Center.  The Rams were the preseason pick to finish second in the CAA.

The Dukes enter the week with a 17-5 overall record and an 8-3 CAA record, which places JMU in a tie for second in the CAA standings.

CAA Standings
1.  Delaware
, 11-0
2.  James Madison,
8-3
     Hofstra
, 8-3
4.  Drexel
, 7-4
     UNC Wilmington
, 7-4
6.  VCU
, 6-5
7.  George Mason
, 5-6
     Old Dominion
, 5-6
9.  Towson
, 4-7
10. William and Mary
, 2-9
      Northeastern
, 2-9
12. Georgia State, 1-10


GAME 23:  JMU vs. Drexel
When:
  Thursday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m.
Where:  Daskalakis Athletic Center (capacity 2,532)

Audio:
  WHBG ESPN 1360 AM, Harrisonburg, Va. | MadiZONE on JMUSports.com
Video: 
Drexel video (free)
Live Stats

About Drexel:  Located in Philadelphia, Pa.... enrollment 24,254.

Conference Affiliation:  CAA member... picked to finish fourth in 2012.

Coach:  Denise Dillon (Villanova '96), 143-121 in eight Drexel and career seasons

Record:  11-10 overall, 7-4 CAA... CAA wins at home over Towson (66-38), Georgia State (65-38) and Northeastern (66-39) and on the road at UNCW (58-43), JMU (60-43), VCU (47-41) and Northeastern (63-41)... CAA losses at home to Hofstra (68-61) and George Mason (56-51) and on the road at Hofstra (76-65) and Delaware (60-49).

Players to Watch:
Kamile Nacickaite... 5-11 senior forward... preseason All-CAA First Team... 2011 All-CAA Second Team... team-high 17.4 ppg

Hollie Mershon... 5-10 junior guard/forward... 15.1 ppg, team-high 5.3 rpg and 3.3 assists per game

The Series:
  JMU leads the all-time series 11-8 and had won three consecutive meetings before Drexel won the last game on Jan. 12, beating the Dukes by 17 (60-43) at the JMU Convocation Center... Drexel has won six of eight games played on the Dragons' home court... JMU's only wins at Drexel came on Feb. 10, 2006 (52-50) and on Jan. 27, 2011 (66-60).

The recent series has consisted of close games, with three exceptions:  a 21-point JMU win in 2006-07, a 17-point JMU win in 2009-10, and a 17-point Drexel win in 2011-12,.  Throw those three games out, and over the other 13 recent games the average margin of victory was 4.0 points.  In only four of those 13 games was the margin more than four points.

Last Meeting
, Jan. 12, 2012, Drexel 60, JMU 43

GAME 24:  JMU vs. Virginia Commonwealth
When:
  Sunday, Feb. 12, 2 p.m.
Where:  Siegel Center (capacity 7,500), Richmond, Va.

Audio:
  WHBG ESPN 1360 AM, Harrisonburg, Va. | MadiZONE on JMUSports.com
Video: 
VCU subscriber video
Live Stats

About VCU:  Located in Richmond, Va.... enrollment 32,436.

Home Court:  Siegel Center (capacity 7,500)

Conference Affiliation:  CAA member... picked to finish second in 2012.

Coach:  Beth Cunningham (Notre Dame '97), 161-109 in nine VCU and career seasons

Record:  13-9 overall, 6-5 CAA entering Feb. 9 home game vs. Hofstra... CAA wins at home over Northeastern (67-60), UNCW (65-53), ODU (76-72 OT), Georgia State (75-70) and on the road at William and Mary (83-80) and Towson (66-59)... CAA losses at home to Drexel (47-41) and on the road at JMU (64-43), UNCW (57-56), George Mason (71-58) and Delaware (68-49).

Players to Watch:
Courtney Hurt... 6-1 senior forward... preseason All-CAA First Team... Naismith Trophy and John R. Wooden Award (national player of the year awards) watch lists... named one of top five power forwards by ESPN.com... 2011 AP All-America Honorable Mention... 2011 All-CAA First Team and 2010 All-CAA Third Team ... team-high 22.3 ppg (second in CAA) and team-high and NCAA and CAA-leading 12.5 rpg... among NCAA leaders in scoring (eighth) and double-doubles (fourth).

Andrea Barbour... 5-10 redshirt senior guard... preseason All-CAA First Team... 2011 All-CAA Second Team... 2008 All-ACC rookie selection at Virginia Tech... 17.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, team-high 2.4 steals per game

The Series:  JMU leads 46-17 and has won the last eight meetings... VCU's last victories over the Dukes came in the 2008-09 season, when the Rams won 81-48 at JMU and 61-43 at VCU... the Dukes swept last year's series (69-59 at JMU; 71-51 at VCU) and also beat the Rams 67-57 in the CAA semifinals... earlier this season JMU won 64-43 at the JMU Convocation Center.

VCU has won six of the 12 games played on the Rams' home court at the Siegel Center (1999-00 to present).

Last Meeting, Jan. 5, 2012, JMU 64, VCU 43

Scouting JMU

Coach:  Kenny Brooks (JMU '92), 10th JMU & career season, 215-92

Record:  17-5 overall, 8-3 CAA | Complete Results

Players to Watch:
Tarik Hislop
... 5-7 junior guard... team-high 14.5 ppg, team-high 3.5 assists per game... preseason All-CAA Second Team... dubbed "rising star" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Kirby Burkholder... 6-0 sophomore guard... 10.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, team-high 2.2 steals per game

Lauren Whitehurst... 6-2 redshirt-senior center... 8.4 ppg, team-high 7.5 rpg, team-high 1.6 blocks per game

Nikki Newman... 6-2 junior forward... 7.0 rpg

Jasmine Gill... 6-1 redshirt-junior guard... 11.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg... preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention

Of Note:  JMU's 43 points scored in its Jan. 12 loss to Drexel marked the Dukes' lowest scoring game since a 61-43 loss at VCU on Feb. 15, 2009.

In its 49-45 win over George Mason last Sunday, JMU held its eighth opponent under 50 points.  That ties for the most sub-50-point games in a season since 1974-75.  It also happened in 1985-86 and 1986-87.

In the win over Mason the Dukes shot a season-low 22 percent (15-68) from the field and had their second-lowest scoring game of the season.  It was JMU's lowest scoring game in a win since a 49-48 victory over Old Dominion on Feb. 18, 2001.

Junior forward Nikki Newman is just one rebound away from the 500-rebound career mark.  She'll become the 30th player in school history with 500 rebounds.

Freshman center Crystal Ross blocked six shots in the Feb. 1 win at ODU.  That ties the school freshman record set by Hollee Franklin at Virginia Tech on Nov. 24, 1009.  It ties for the third-highest single-game blocks total in school history behind the school-record eight by Meredith Alexis (3/5/05 vs. Delaware in CAA Tournament at Mason) and seven by current JMU assistant coach Jennifer Brown (2/3/08 at William and Mary).

Vs. George Mason sophomore guard Debbie Smith came off the bench for a career-high eight points on 4-for-8 shooting.

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