JMU men upset Big East's South Florida

James Madison turned a five-point deficit into a five-point victory with a 15-5 run in the final seven minutes to take down South Florida 66-61 in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday night at the USF Sun Dome.

JMU improved to 8-3 for the season and wrapped up a five-game road swing with a 3-2 record. USF fell to 6-6 for the season after dropping the first meeting between the schools.

South Florida led for most of the second half, including a 10-point advantage at 47-37 with 14 minutes to go. JMU cut the advantage to one at 49-48 with 9:11 to go before USF pulled back ahead 56-51 on a pair of threes by Jawanza Poland and Anthony Crater with 7:01 remaining.

However, JMU cracked down on defense, allowing just five points in the final seven minutes, and picked up some key possessions down the stretch. Sophomore guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) hit two free throws, junior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) hit one of two, and senior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) converted a jumper to knot the score at 56-56.

The teams exchanged a pair of free throws, which included the first USF points in over four minutes, before the Dukes then received one of the key buckets of the game from sophomore forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) for a 60-58 lead with two minutes left.

After a USF missed three, Semenov added another layup for a two-possession lead with 1:14 left. Hugh Robertson responded with the only USF field goal of the last seven minutes, a three-pointer, to cut the margin to 62-61 with 58 seconds remaining. However, JMU iced the game at the free throw line from there, hitting 4-of-6 to go on to record the 66-61 victory.

JMU limited USF to 1-of-8 shooting from the field in the final seven minutes and held the Bulls to 37.5 percent shooting for the game, including an impressive 27.6 percent in the second half. JMU forced 14 turnovers while committing a season-low of six.

Bowles led all players with 24 points, including 15 in the second half. He hit 6-of-9 field goals in the second half and finished with seven rebounds. Moore added 14 points and three steals for the Dukes while Goins shared game-high honors with 11 boards.

Hugh Robertson and Poland shared high honors for USF with 19 points apiece with Robertson adding 11 rebounds and four assists for a double-double. Poland’s total was a career best in his first USF season. Jarrid Famous also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

JMU benefitted from an advantage in free throw opportunities, attempting 10 more than USF and hitting 17-of-26 (65 percent). Three forwards fouled out for the Bulls in the final seven minutes.

The Dukes shot 42 percent for the game and held a significant shooting advantage in the second half, 55 percent compared to USF’s 28 percent.

USF started the game on an 11-0 run and led 18-4 just four minutes into the contest. However, the Dukes regrouped and used a 17-2 run of their own to take their first lead on a pair of Moore free throws with 10 minutes remaining.

It was an evenly played possession-by-possession game for the remainder of the opening period. The teams traded six leads before USF held JMU scoreless for the final three minutes and used a three-point play by Famous along with a pair of free throws by Robertson for a 34-30 lead at the break.

JMU shot just 34 percent in the opening frame but committed just two turnovers. Bowles led the Dukes with nine in the period while Wells added seven. USF was led by its forward tandem with 11 from Famous and 34 from Robertson.

JMU will return to Harrisonburg and play its first home contest since Nov. 27 when the Dukes host Marshall on Dec. 22. The Thundering Herd earned a 67-63 win over the Dukes in Huntington on Dec. 7.

NOTES: Junior forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) scored JMU’s final point on a free throw to put him into the top 20 in all-time scoring at JMU, tying his assistant coach Lou Rowe with 1,055.

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