Dukes rally from 16-point deficit to knock off Drexel
After trailing by 16 in the first half, James Madison turned it around to lead by 16 in the second and defeated Drexel 68-54 in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game Wednesday night at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
JMU improved to 18-8 overall and moved into a tie for fifth place with Drexel in the CAA standings at 8-6. DU dropped to 16-8 overall. The Dukes entered the game 0-7 all-time at the DAC and 3-14 all-time vs. the Dragons.
Senior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) posted his 13th double-double of the season with 23 points and 14 rebounds. It was his 14th 20-point game of the season. Junior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) posted 14 points, including 11 in the first 12 minutes, and sophomore guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) added 12 points and six assists.
Forward Samme Givens led Drexel with a double-double of 22 points and 11 boards after posting 15 points in the first half. Dartaye Ruffin added 10 points and five boards.
Drexel scored the game’s first 11 points and led by as much as 16 at 25-9 with nine minutes to go in the first half. JMU went on, however, to outscore Drexel 59-29 over the final 31 minutes to post the victory.
The Dukes cut the 16-point margin to three at the half at 32-29. A three by Hitchens less than two minutes into the second half tied the score for the first time since opening tip at 36-36. A turnaround 15-foot hook shot by Bowles gave JMU its first lead.
Following a tying tip-in by Givens, the Dukes took the lead for good on a jumper by junior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) with 15:35 to go. A thunderous three-on-one fastbreak dunk by junior forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) capped an 8-1 run and gave JMU a 10-point lead at 55-45 with 7:52 remaining.
Drexel had just three field goals in the final 12 minutes of the game as JMU sealed the victory on free throws, hitting 9-of-10 in the final two minutes to record the 68-54 win.
JMU shot 46% from the field and hit 4-of-11 three-pointers (36%). Drexel shot 37% for the game, including 32% in the second half. The Dragons hit just one of their 12 three-point attempts (8%) and hit 9-of-18 free throws.
The Dukes also outrebounded the Dragons (41-37) for the second time this season. Drexel entered the game ranked third in the nation in rebounding margin (+10.4).
The Dragons started the game on an 11-0 run, holding JMU scoreless for the first four minutes before a pair of three-pointers by Hitchens. Drexel then quickly posted another 10-0 run with no JMU points for almost five minutes to make it 21-6 with 10 minutes remaining.
The margin was still 15 points at 27-12 with Hitchens having 11 of the 12 JMU points before the Dukes went on a 12-2 run of their own. Bowles had eight points during the stretch as JMU closed to 29-24 with three minutes to go.
The Dukes were as close as one at 30-29 with a chance to take the lead but the front end of a one-and-one free throw opportunity was missed by sophomore forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School). Ruffin’s layup with 55 seconds to go gave the Dragons a 32-29 halftime advantage.