Defense comes up big for JMU in 61-50 CAA win at Charleston

jmu logoJunior guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) scored a game-high 19 points and James Madison used stifling zone defense to pick up a 61-50 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball victory Monday night at TD Arena.

The Dukes (9-6, 2-0 CAA) limited the Cougars (5-9, 0-2 CAA) to just 32.3 percent (10-31) in the second half and held the hosts scoreless for nine and a half minutes from late in the first half to early in the second half, outscoring them 43-24 over the final 25 minutes.

It was JMU’s first double-digit CAA road win since beating Towson 72-61 on Feb. 15, 2011, and the first 2-0 start in conference play during the Brady tenure, with the last coming during the 2007-08 season.

“We’re certainly excited about the win,” Brady said. “It’s a road win in conference play, very difficult to achieve those. I thought in the middle ten minutes of the first half that Charleston really asserted their strength and power and their rebounding prowess. I thought we played a much smarter and more poised second half so we’re excited about the win, coming down here in a difficult environment and winning the game.”

Aside from his game-high point total, which came on 6-of-9 shooting, Curry also grabbed a team-high six rebounds and dished out three assists. Sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Lower Merion (Pa.)) produced 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting and had a game- and career-best three blocks while junior guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) had 12 points and two steals off the bench.

The Dukes shot 50 percent for the second consecutive game on 22-of-44 shooting while limiting the Cougs to 37 percent (20-54) from the floor. Charleston held a 34-29 rebounding advantage, including a 14-6 win on the offensive glass, resulting in 14 second-chance points. JMU turned the ball away just eight times while forcing CofC into 13 turnovers, which the Dukes capitalized on with 17 points off takeaways. JMU also outscored the hosts 32-24 in the paint.

With the game tied at 11, the Dukes scored six straight, four coming by Dalembert, to take a 17-11 lead with 11:00 left in the first. The Cougars defense stepped up, holding JMU without a point for over five minutes and going on a 13-0 run to take a 24-17 lead with 5:50 remaining in the half. Trailing 26-18, a trey by Curry with 3:41 left began a 7-0 JMU run end the frame to trail by just a point, 26-25, at the break.

The Dukes continued their defensive prowess early in the second half, as the Cougars failed to get on the scoreboard until4:38 into the frame, ending JMU’s 11-0 run which started in the previous stanza. Leading by three at 33-30, Dalembert had a layup and dunk off a steal to give the Dukes their largest lead to that point at 37-30 with 11:22 to go.

“I think that the guys off the bench brought in a lot of energy,” Dalembert said. “They’re (CofC) a tough team, they have a lot of subs, so it got a little tight and we made some mental mistakes so they took me out and our guys made a little run.”

The Cougars got it back to four with a Canyon Barry triple but JMU managed to stretch it to double digits with an 8-2 run to grab a 45-35 lead with 7:59 left. CofC never drew closer than six points down the stretch and Madison led by as many as 12 late in the game, with eight made free throws in the final minute.

JMU returns home to face CAA favorite Northeastern Thursday night at 7 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center.

For individual ticket sales, click here. Fans who are unable to attend can watch the game live on MadiZONE HD SportsNet, presented by the JMU Alumni Association, or listen on the JMU/nTelos Wireless Broadcast Network or on the local airwaves at wsva 550 AM and 92.1 FM. Saturday’s game will be sponsored by Valley Mall. For a full listing of promotions all season long, click here.

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