Hot shooting pushes JMU past Rider

Junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Christian) shot 8-for-9 as part of a 15-for-21 team effort from the arc as James Madison topped Rider 86-69 as part of the 2011 Philly Hoop Group Classic on Friday afternoon at The Palestra.

JMU snapped a two-game losing skid to improve to 2-2 while Rider fell to 1-5.

Just three days removed from tying the program record with 16 three-pointers in a loss to Robert Morris, JMU hit 15 from downtown on 21 attempts for 71.4 percent accuracy. In the two games combined, the Dukes are 31-for-55 (56.4 percent).

Five different Dukes had a three within the game’s first 11 minutes while Davis led the arsenal by hitting 8-of-9.  He finished with a career-best 29 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.  He is now 13-for-17 from long distance in the last two games and is averaging 23.8 points to lead the Colonial Athletic Association through four games.

Senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe), one game removed from his first career double-double, nearly made it two in a row as he finished with 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds.  Junior forwardAndrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) rang up 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.  Senior forwardJulius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) added 10 points, five boards, four assists and four steals.

After failing to maintain a 10-point lead in the first half, JMU went into the locker room tied with Rider at 38-38.  However, the Dukes began the second period with an 8-0 run to reestablish the lead for good.

Rider was within six points at 55-49 at the 12:45 mark of the second half before JMU went on its run.  Hitchens hit a runner in the paint while Semenov and Davis hit consecutive threes to extend the lead to 14 at 63-49 and force a Rider timeout.

Jonathon Thompson hit a three for the Broncs before three more treys by the Dukes, a pair by Davis and one by Wells, quickly pushed the margin to 19 at 72-53 with 8:22 remaining.  Five straight Madison field goals came from downtown during the overall 17-4 run.

Rider got no closer than 14 the rest of the way while JMU saw its largest lead at 86-64 with 2:07 remaining before finishing the 86-69 victory.

Reserve Brandon Penn led Rider with 21 points in 24 minutes while hitting 4-of-6 from the arc.  Thompson added 13 points and eight assists.  Daniel Stewart posted a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds while Novar Gadson chipped in 10 points and four assists.

JMU finished the game shooting 56 percent from the floor while hitting 14 of its 31 attempts within the arc (45 percent) compared to its 71 percent shooting from the arc.  The Dukes had a season-best 21 assists and JMU outrebounded Rider 25-14 in the second half after losing the battle for the boards 15-9 in the first period.

Rider shot 44 percent from the field and hit 9-of-21 three-point attempts (43 percent).  The Broncs were hurt at the free throw line, hitting 14 of their 27 attempts (52 percent).  Rider had just one more turnover than the Dukes (19-18) but were hurt by points off turnovers to the tune of 30-14.

In the first half, JMU broke away from a 10-10 tie to take a 15-10 lead with 14 minutes remaining.  The Dukes went up by as much as 11 at 29-18 with eight minutes to go on consecutive threes by Davis and Hitchens.

Madison still led 31-21 before the Broncs closed over the final six minutes.  The Dukes were up 36-31 before a three by Thompson and a pair of free throws from Jones tied the game at 36-36.  A Hood dunk regained the lead but a lay-in by Penn in the closing seconds tied it up at 38-38 at the break.

Penn had 16 points to lead Rider in the opening 20 minutes while Hitchens had 10 for the Dukes, who hit seven three-pointers in the half.

JMU wraps up play in the Philly Hoop Group Classic on Saturday evening with a 7 p.m. tip against Penn at The Palestra.  The game will be televised live on The Comcast Network (TCN Philadelphia & Mid-Atlantic) along with Comcast SportsNet Plus (CSN+).


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