PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Peyton McDaniel made seven 3-pointers and scored 30 points, Kiki Jefferson added four 3s and 22 points and No. 1 seed James Madison beat second-seeded Texas State 81-51 on Monday for its first Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship.
It was James Madison's first title-game appearance since the 2016-17 team fell to Elon in the Colonial Athletic Association championship. The Dukes (26-7) will play in their first NCAA Tournament since 2016.
McDaniel was 5 of 5 from distance in the first half and Jefferson made another just before the halftime buzzer to give James Madison a 38-28 lead. Jefferson made James Madison 11th 3-pointer in 14 attempts (79%) midway through the fourth for a 76-46 lead.
McDaniel finished 7 of 7 behind the arc to set a career high for makes, Jefferson, the Sun Belt player of the year, went 4 of 5 and James Madison made a season-high 12 in 16 tries.
Kseniia Kozlova added nine points and 10 rebounds for James Madison.
The Dukes scored the opening six points of the game and never trailed. Texas State tied it at 19 before McDaniel made three 3-pointers in 53 seconds. James Madison had two 9-0 runs in the third quarter to pull away.
Da’Nasia Hood, coming off a 30-point, 16-rebound performance in the semifinals, was held to 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting for Texas State (23-9). Taelour Pruitt added 12 points and Kennedy Taylor scored 10.
Texas State had won five straight since a 58-54 loss to James Madison on Feb. 16. The Bobcats were playing in the championship game for the first time since 2018.
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