JMU loses at East Tennessee State, 70-56

East Tennessee State’s defensive pressure forced 23 James Madison turnovers with 18 steals as the hosts recorded a 70-56 win in a non-conference men’s basketball game on Monday night at the Mountain States Health Alliance Athletics Center.

ETSU snapped a three-game losing skid to improve to 11-10 overall while JMU fell to 10-13.

The Buccaneers entered the night ranked second in the nation averaging 10.3 steals per game and 23rd with a 3.4 turnover margin.  They forced nine turnovers in the first eight minutes of the game to race out to a 20-5 lead.

JMU cut that lead to seven at the half but trailed by double digits for all but 18 and a half minutes of the second half as ETSU used an early 8-0 run to go up 16 and cruised to the 70-56 triumph.

The Bucs, who improved to 7-4 in the all-time series against the Dukes, held a 21-7 advantage in points off turnovers and shot 53 percent from the floor for the game.  Their 18 steals were the most by a JMU opponent dating back to at least the 1988-89 season.

The duo of forwards Isiah Brown and Tommy Hubbard took charge in the second half to lead ETSU to victory, combining for 26 of the first 29 points until the final three minutes of the period.

Brown finished with a game-high 23 points to go with nine rebounds and five steals.  Hubbard added 13 points, five boards and four steals.  Guard Adam Sollazzo connected for 19 points and five boards while guard Sheldon Cooley added nine points, four boards and six steals.

Senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) had his eighth game of the season with at least 20 points and matched his career high with six made three-point field goals.  Junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community) added 11 points.

JMU hit nine three-pointers in the game to match its fourth-best total of the season.  The Dukes shot 46 percent from the floor but were outscored in the paint 42-20.

ETSU’s pressure got to the Dukes early and often as three turnovers by Davis led to a quick 7-0 lead in the first two minutes.  The Buccaneers continued to push the lead to 13-1 and eventually 20-5 just over 11 minutes into the game with nine turnovers by the Dukes during that stretch.

JMU then responded with a 7-0 run to cut it to 20-12 with eight minutes to go.  A baseline jumper on an offensive rebound by Semenov at the halftime buzzer made it 31-24 at the break.  Sollazzo led the Bucs with 12 points in the half as ETSU shot 52 percent from the field as a team.  Davis had nine for the Dukes.

JMU plays its third straight road game on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Colonial Athletic Association foe Old Dominion.  It will be the Dukes’ third straight CAA game on TV with coverage on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and The Comcast Network Philadelphia.

NOTE: JMU also learned of its opponent for Sears BracketBusters weekend right at tip-off time on Monday.  The Dukes will face Detroit of the Horizon League on the road on Feb. 18.



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