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JMU dominates early, rallies late, knocks off Virginia, 52-49

uva athleticsJMU trailed D3 EMU at halftime last Thursday. These same Dukes held Virginia without a bucket for nearly 13 minutes in the first half Tuesday night.

UVA fought back to actually take the lead three times in the final four minutes, but it was JMU that hit the big shots down the stretch – a pair of tough jumpers from Takal Molson, who’s at his third school in four years – to get the 52-49 win.

It was the first win over Virginia in Madison program history, and it came before a raucous sellout crowd at the school’s new, sorta, kinda, Atlantic Union Bank Center.

Virginia (6-4) got out to an early 10-2 lead, then went ice cold, almost literally. The ‘Hoos scored one point on their next 17 possessions, going 0-of-10 from the field with six turnovers, as the Dukes (8-2) went on a 22-1 run.

A Kihei Clark three with three seconds left finally got the lid off the rim and made it 24-14 JMU at the break.

A 10-0 Virginia run over a 2:23 stretch of the second half got the Cavaliers back on top, 45-44, on an Armaan Franklin short jumper with 3:50 to go.

The defense would be what would let UVA down late, as JMU hit its last four shots from the field, taking the lead for good with 1:10 to go on a contested lane jumper by Molson, then, after Franklin missed from the corner, Molson scored on a turnaround in the lane with 22 seconds left.

Virginia had two chances to tie it, with Clark missing on a twisting three from 23 feet with six seconds left, then, after Terrell Strickland missed the front end of a one-and-one with four seconds left, Franklin missed a halfcourt heave at the buzzer.

Team numbers

Awful offensive game for the visitors, who shot 38 percent (19-of-50) from the floor and were 4-of-26 (15.4 percent) from three.

Why in god’s name this team is getting more than half its shots from three is anybody’s guess.

Virginia had a size and strength advantage on the smaller Dukes, who have one guy taller than 6’7” in their rotation, and yet JMU outscored UVA 28-20 in the paint, including getting 11 makes on 17 shots at the rim.

The Cavaliers were 8-of-9 at the rim.

The starters

Jayden Gardner had 12 points and 14 rebounds, but it felt like he didn’t get enough touches, even as he was 6-of-9 from the floor.

Franklin was 4-of-14 from the floor, and 0-of-6 from three. Franklin was a 42.4 percent shooter from three last year at Indiana, but he’s now 11-of-54 – 20.4 percent – as a Cavalier.

Clark had 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field, 3-of-9 from three. If you’d have told me going into the season that he’d be this team’s best threat from three – Clark is 18-of-44, 40.9 percent, this season – I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if you’d have said the team would be 6-4 10 games in.

Reece Beekman had five points, five rebounds, four assists, actually hit a three, but he’s still not being used right. The kid can’t shoot – he’s 5-of-34 (14.7 percent) on jumpers this season – so running him off screens in mover-blocker doesn’t do the offense any good at all.

Beekman needs the ball in his hands with space to create.

If he’s going to continue to be used this way, he needs to transfer, for his own good.

Kadin Shedrick had a nice all-around game – eight points, five rebounds, three blocks in a season-high 27 minutes.

Shedrick only had three shots from the field. He had a big size advantage all night, and mostly just set screens.

The bench

The bench was sh … sorry. Not good. Thirty-six minutes combined for Taine Murray, Francisco Caffaro, Kody Stattmann, Igor Milicic and Carson McCorkle, a combined four points on 1-of-9 shooting, along with three rebounds, one assist.

None of the bench guys had a positive plus/minus.

Only one of the starters had a negative plus/minus – Clark, and only because he played all 40 minutes.

McCorkle was -9 in six minutes, Murray -7 in 12 minutes, Stattmann -5 in five minutes, and Caffaro (10 minutes) and Milicic (three minutes) were both -3.

Bottom line now has Virginia projected at a 16-14 finish, 10-10 in the ACC.

That’s only because the ACC is so depressingly down.

We may only get three teams into the NCAAs this year, down.

I feel for Kihei Clark. He deserves to go out better than this.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press