Curry, Kent guide JMU to 82-73 CAA win over Hofstra

jmu logoJunior guard Ron Curry posted his first career double-double with 20 points and 11 assists while sophomore guard Jackson Kent matched him with his career-high 20 points to lead James Madison past Hofstra, 82-73, in the final Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game of the regular season Saturday at the JMU Convocation Center.

The Dukes improved to 19-12 overall and finished 12-5 in the CAA after completing its sixth sweep of a league opponent this year. The Dukes will enter next weekend’s CAA Championship seeded either third or fourth, pending the results ofSaturday night’s two remaining conference games. The Pride fell to 19-12 overall and 10-8 in the league to secure the No. 5 seed in Baltimore.

Curry reached 20 points for the eighth time in 12 games. In the first half, Curry got the job done by sharing the ball eight times and scoring three points. In the second stanza, he turned to himself for offense, pouring in 17 points and three more assists for a career-best 11. He shot 5-for-6 from beyond the arc and 5-for-9 overall from the field while adding five rebounds.

JMU had two players post 20 points in a game for the first time since the 2013 CAA Championship quarterfinals with Kent adding 20 points, four boards and three steals. He was 7-for-10 from the floor. Sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembertadded 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds while freshman guard Joey McLean contributed nine points and three assists.

The Dukes shot a season-high 62.8 percent (27-of-43) from the floor, including a stellar 58.8 percent (10-of-17) from beyond the arc while holding the league’s second-best 3-point shooting team to just 26.7 percent (8-of-30) from long range and 41.7 percent (25-of-60) for the game.

The Dukes outrebounded the Pride 31-28 but the visitors held a 13-5 advantage on the offensive glass, resulting in an 11-2 scoring edge for the Pride. HU also forced JMU into 14 turnovers for 18 points off the mishaps while only giving the ball away six times.

Brian Bernardi hit four 3-pointers to lead the Pride with a game-high 22 points. Dion Nesmith tallied 14 points while Juan’ya Green chipped in 11 points and four assists.

JMU opened the game on an 8-2 run 2:31 into the contest with a pair of 3-pointers by McLean and Kent and a dunk by Dalembert. Trailing 15-9, the Pride scored five quick points to trim the deficit to one but six straight from the Dukes, four of which came on two slams by Dalembert, gave the Dukes a 21-14 advantage with 10:15 to go.

After the Pride cut JMU’s lead back to one at 23-22, the Dukes answered with a huge run to end the half. A jumper by redshirt-sophomore forward Dimitrije Cabarkapa with 6:21 remaining sparked the offense as they closed the stanza on an 18-3 run. Hofstra missed 12 of its final 13 shots in the final seven minutes while JMU shot 6-for-9 from the floor during that span to take a 41-25 lead into the break.

The Pride made a move in the second half to chip away at the Dukes’ lead. Down 48-30, HU went on a 17-2 run in less than four minutes to climb back to within a possession at 50-47 with 13:44 to play. The Dukes went nearly five minutes with only two points during that time, but they answered with a 7-0 surge to grab a 57-47 lead with 11:35 to go.

Hofstra made it a five-point game on two occasions, but back-to-back triples by Kent and Curry gave Madison a 66-55 lead with 9:03 left. Hofstra never mustered another run as JMU’s offense kept rolling, never giving up less than a nine-point lead the rest of the way.

Next Saturday in the CAA quarterfinals in Baltimore, Md., the Dukes will either face fifth-seeded Hofstra at 2:30 p.m. or sixth-seeded Delaware at 8:30 p.m. at Royal Farms Arena. JMU will earn the No. 3 seed with a Northeastern loss to College of Charleston tonight, but will be the No. 4 seed with a NU win.

The Dukes can also tie for the CAA regular-season crown should UNCW fall tonight at Elon.

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