JMU falls at home to Kent State

Trailing by seven early in the second half, Kent State turned the tide to outscore James Madison 39-12 over the final 16 minutes en route to a 71-51 men’s basketball victory Tuesday evening at the Convocation Center.

Playing on the road for the first time since its season opener, Kent State won its fourth in a row to improve to 6-1.  JMU had its three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 4-3.

JMU used a modest 8-3 run to end the first half with a 29-26 lead, its first halftime lead of the season.  A jumper by junior guardA.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Christian) along with threes by senior guardHumpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) extended the lead nine at 37-28, making it an overall 16-5 run.

The Dukes still led by seven at 39-32 with 16:39 to go when the Golden Flashes dramatically switched the momentum.  KSU reeled off seven straight points to tie the score.  Then with the game still tied at 42-42, the visitors added a 10-0 burst in less than two minutes to grab control.

JMU could get no closer than eight points on the ensuing basket by freshman forwardEnoch Hood (Norfolk, Va./Booker T. Washington) as Kent State continued to control the game flow.  It was still a 10-point margin at 59-49 with less than four minutes remaining when the Flashes used an 8-0 run to seal the victory.

Altogether, Kent State outscored JMU 39-12 after the Dukes the 39-32 lead at the 16:39 mark of the second half.  It was a 29-9 margin from the time the teams were tied at 42-42.

Chris Evans led five KSU players in double figures with 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals in the winning effort.  Michael Porrini posted a balance stat line with 10 points, seven boards, five assists and three steals.  Randal Holt added 10 points, six boards and four assists.  Forward Justin Greene posted 10 points, five boards, three assists, three steals and two blocks.  Eric Gaines also had 10 points.

Hitchens led JMU with 11 points, three assists and four steals.  Freshman guard Arman Marks (Louisville, Ky./Eastern) had the first double-figure game of his career with 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting.  Junior forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) also had 10 points to go with four assists.

JMU’s 51 points, 33 percent shooting from the field and 26 percent from the arc (6-for-23) were all season lows while 15 steals were a season high.  Both teams suffered from turnovers with Kent State committing 23 compared to 19 for Madison.

KSU shot 52 percent for the game, fueled by 63 percent (17-for-27) in the second half.  The Flashes shot 41 percent from the arc and held a 39-29 advantage in rebounds with six players grabbing at least five missed shots.

Both teams struggled from the field in the first half with JMU shooting 34 percent from the field and hitting just three of its 12 three-point attempts.  Kent State hit 40 percent overall but fared better at the arc, hitting 4-of-7.

The Dukes held the largest lead of the opening half, jumping out to a 16-10 advantage.  It was a tight back-and-forth affair from that point.  KSU held a 23-21 lead before JMU ended the period on an 8-3 run.  Madison was up 27-26 before calling timeout with 2.9 seconds remaining.  Out of the inbounds play, Hitchens found Marks for an open jumper from the left side, and he banked it in for a 29-26 score at the half.

Semenov led all players with nine points in the first half.  Porrini and Evans each had five for Kent State.

JMU will now break for semester exams before resuming action on Dec. 19 when the Dukes host The Citadel at 7 p.m.

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