Texas State women's basketball (23-9, 13-5 Sun Belt Conference) faced a brutal end to its Sun Belt Conference tournament run as it was dominated by James Madison University (26-7, 13-5 Sun Belt Conference) in an 81-51 blowout.
It was the Dukes nearly the entire way, as James Madison opened the game with a corner 3-pointer from senior guard Kiki Jefferson and a pair of trips to the free throw line that gave them an early 6-0 lead.
Senior forward Lauryn Thompson got Texas State on the board with a turnaround hook shot near the rim, but JMU answered with another triple from Jefferson to make the score 9-2.
A couple of 3-pointers helped Texas State go on a 12-5 run to tie the game at 14-14 to the end of the first quarter.
Jefferson started the second period scoring with a step-back mid-range jumper, but a five-point solo run from graduate guard Taelour Pruitt helped the 'Cats keep pace.
With the score tied at 19-19, JMU junior guard Peyton McDaniel, the career 36% 3-point shooter, splashed home three triples in a row to give the Dukes a commanding 28-19 lead.
Graduate guard Kennedy Taylor stopped the bleeding with an off-the-dribble 3-pointer of her own, but McDaniel answered right back with another catch-and-shoot three.
Taylor retorted with yet another 3-pointer that landed flat on the back of the rim but somehow rolled in.
The Dukes got the half's last laugh though as Jefferson hit her third triple of the game just before the buzzer.
Both teams were efficient from distance in the first half, but JMU held an 8-5 advantage in 3-pointers.
A wide-open Thompson knocked down a mid-range jumper to begin the second half and cut the lead to just eight at 38-30.
The Dukes went on a 22-7 run to close the third period, giving them a 60-37 lead.
The Dukes finished the game with 12 total 3-pointers on a scorching 75% shooting, but they also handily controlled the boards with a 46-31 rebound advantage.
McDaniel led the team in scoring and matched her career-high with 30 points. She shot 10-of-11 overall and was perfect from the 3-point line, connecting on all seven of her 3-point attempts.
Graduate forward Da'Nasia Hood led the Bobcats in points with 15, while Pruitt and Taylor finished with 12 and 10 respectively.
Despite the defeat, the Bobcats finished as the second-best team in the Sun Belt Conference and made their first conference championship since 2018. Hood and Pruitt were also named to the Sun Belt's All-Tournament team.
The Bobcats are eligible for the WNIT tournament and will find out what their season holds next on Sunday, March 12, when the NCAA Tournament field is announced.
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