Mar 16, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
James Madison, 2014 CAA Tournament champions.
“Can you say that again?” asked beaming Dukes Coach Kenny Brooks. “It’s been a long time.”
James Madison (28-5) won its seventh CAA Tournament title and first since 2010, defeating Delaware 70-45 atThe Show Place Arena on Sunday. The Dukes earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and will learn their seed on Monday. CAA regular-season champ Delaware(20-10) is WNIT bound.
The WNIT is a tournament these Dukes are familiar with; they’ve been there the last two years and advanced to the championship game in 2012.
“We had our WNIT fun, but we’re tired of it,” said senior Nikki Newman. “I think this team can make a lot of noise in the NCAAs. I think that’s what this team deserves.”
On the 2 1/2-hour bus ride back to Harrisonburg, Brooks promised his team would take the time to exhale. These balanced Dukes have put together a marvelous seasons that includes wins over UCLA, Virginia and St. John’s in the nonconference along with two near misses against Vanderbilt and North Carolina and a 15-1 record in the CAA regular season. They dominated the CAA postseason awards with Brooks named Coach of the Year, Kirby Burkholder Player of the Year and Nikki Newman Defensive Player of the Year.
The lone Duke starter who did not receive all-conference recognition:,sophomore Jazmon Gwathmey,was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament on Sunday. She finished the championship game with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Brooks told Gwathmey after the CAA banquet, “You’re one of the 15 best players in this league. Now go out and prove it.”
These dominant Dukes led by as many as 31 in the championship game and racked up a 20.3-point margin of victory this season.
Noted Brooks, “It’s almost been UConn-esque.”
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