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Georgia State steals one from Dukes

Stickback at buzzer sends JMU to loss in CAA opener

Jihad Ali’s offensive rebound and putback just before the buzzer gave Georgia State a 64-63 victory over James Madison in the Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball opener for both teams on Saturday afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena.

JMU had its six-game winning streak snapped, its longest since 1993-94, while falling to 6-2 overall and dropping its CAA opener for the third straight season. The Dukes also lost their 13th consecutive conference road game. GSU improved to 3-3 overall, 1-0 in the CAA.

With the game tied 62-62, sophomore guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) was fouled with 3.5 seconds remaining. Moore hit the first but the 83 percent career shooter missed the second.

GSU called timeout with 2.7 seconds remaining. On the ensuing play, Marques Johnson had his jumper from the right elbow blocked cleanly by JMU sophomore forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School). However, Ali was in the right place, skying over junior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) for the offensive rebound and laying it in front of the buzzer.

Senior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) posted his fifth double-double in six games and led all players in points (21) and rebounds (14). Junior forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) added 15 points while junior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) added nine points and 12 boards.

Brandon McGee led Georgia State with 15 points and six rebounds while Josh Micheaux added 12 points. Ali added eight points and 10 rebounds.

JMU trailed 62-58 with three minutes remaining but held GSU without a field goal until the game winner at the buzzer, forcing four turnovers. The Dukes tied it up at 62-62 on a pair of Bowles free throws with 26 seconds left. However, that came after hitting just 2-of-6 free throws in the previous two minutes.

After tying it at 62-62, GSU had a shot to break the tie, however, Hitchens forced GSU guard James Fields into a five-second violation to give the Dukes possession. Moore drew a foul out front and hit one of his two tries to set up GSU’s game winner.

Altogether, JMU went 19-for-29 on free throws, including just 5-of-10 in the last 2:35. The Dukes entered the game leading the CAA shooting 72 percent on free throws. JMU was hurt by a two-minute stretch in the final 10 minutes in which it committed six turnovers, allowing GSU to turn a tied game into a five-point lead.