James Madison Edges Women's Basketball, 49-45
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James Madison Edges Women's Basketball, 49-45

HARRISONBURG, Va. - Rahneeka Saunders posted her first career double-double behind 11 points and 11 rebounds, but the George Mason women's basketball team suffered a tough 49-45 loss to James Madison Sunday afternoon in the JMU Convocation Center.

Mason dipped to 11-11 overall and 5-6 in Colonial Athletic Association play, while JMU improved to 17-5, 8-3 with the league win.

The Dukes secured 28 offensive rebounds en route to pulling down 55 to win the edge on glass by nine. Kirby Burkholder and Lauren Whitehurst paced the Dukes, each with 12 rebounds, while Saunders led Mason with a team-high 11. Behind a 5-for-7 display at the charity stripe, Tarik Hislop led James Madison's 18-for-29 performance at the free throw line. Mason was 1-for-4 from the charity stripe.

Taleia Moton led Mason with 13 points as Saunders followed with 11. JMU was limited to single-digit scoring performances paced by nine points from Whitehurst and Tarik Hislop.

Hitting a triple at 14:58, Easter gave the Patriots their first lead of the contest as Saunders followed hitting a jumper for a 9-6 Mason lead with 14:30 on the clock. Christine Weithman built Mason's lead out to five points with a three-pointer for a 14-9 score before the Dukes responded with six unanswered, reclaiming the lead at 15-14 with 11:04 to play.

Mason took its third lead of the contest when Saunders sparked a 10-2 run fueled by seven points from the junior, handing the Patriots their largest lead of the opening half at 24-17 with 7:33 remaining. James Madison would keep Mason scoreless the remainder of the half however, while putting together an 8-0 spurt for a narrow 25-24 advantage at the break. The Dukes out-rebounded the Patriots 13-6 on the offensive glass, but the teams stood even with eight second chance points apiece, while the home squad used nine Mason turnovers for nine points. Saunders led Mason at the break with nine points.

Janaa Pickard snapped Mason's 10 minute scoring drought with a jumper just over two minutes into the second half for a one point contest before Moton knotted the score at 32-all following a pair of buckets with 13:26 to play. James Madison responded with a 6-0 run and took a 41-34 lead on a three-point play from Hislop at the 10:41 mark. Mason slowly chipped at its deficit over the next four minutes, making it a one possession game, 41-39, when Easter hit the back end of a pair of free throws with 6:53 remaining.

With back-to-back trips to the charity stripe, Whitehurst hit three free throws giving JMU a 44-39 advantage. Evelyn Lewis hit a layup at the 2:43 mark and Pickard sliced the score to 46-43 with a jumper from the top of the key just inside a minute left. The Patriots came within one possession again on a Saunders bucket at 14 seconds, but the Dukes picked up a free throw from Hislop to seal the 49-45 victory.

George Mason returns to the court at the Patriot Center for a two-game homestand welcoming Northeastern first on Thursday, Feb. 9 for a 7 p.m. tip.
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