JMU rallies from 19 down to stun Delaware

Trailing 50-31 with over 13 minutes to go, James Madison used a full-court pressure defense and penetrating offense to go on a 30-11 momentum-swinging push to rally for a 77-71 win over Delaware in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Bob Carpenter Center.

JMU improved to 17-6 overall and 7-4 in the CAA while UD fell to 11-10 overall and 6-5 in the league. The win broke a tie for fifth place in the conference standings. JMU improved to 7-5 on the road, 2-3 in CAA away games.

After an ugly first half in which JMU shot just 28% (7-25), Delaware used three consecutive three-pointers midway through the second half to take a 50-31 lead with 13:35 to go. From that point, the Dukes stepped up the pressure on defense, both full-court and half-court, and put a higher emphasis on movement around the arc and penetration in the lane.

A dunk by senior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) got the Dukes going, followed by a three-point play by freshman guard Chad Jackson (Georgetown, Ky./Scott County).

JMU still trailed 52-36 with 12 minutes to go when the Dukes embarked on a key 10-0 push. Junior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) hit a three-point play and Bowles added a layup. Sophomore guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) hit a layup and added a pair of free throws to make it 52-45 with 9:32 to go. That run by the Dukes included a pair of 10-second violations on the Blue Hens during three turns on offense.

UD still led 61-54 with 6:24 on the clock when the Dukes went on another run, this time a 7-0 spurt that tied the score at 61-61 with 5:16 remaining on a pair of Wells free throws.

The Blue Hens stayed in front until the final three minutes. With the score tied at 67-67, Kelvin McNeil missed a point-blank layup for Delaware. Bowles responded with a jumper with 2:23 to go for 69-67 lead, JMU’s first since it was 2-0.

Jawan Carter was whistled for an offensive foul on the next UD possession and Bowles hit another fade-away jumper to make it 71-67 with 1:40 on the clock. After a pair of free throws by Delaware’s Jamelle Hagins, junior forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) converted a big post move layup for a 73-69 lead.

Devon Saddler hit a layup for the Hens with 43 seconds left. However, Moore ran down the shot clock and converted a runner in the paint with 14 seconds left. Carter missed a layup and JMU sophomore Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) grabbed the rebound. His two free throws iced the game for the 77-71 final.

Altogether in the final 13:35 of the game, JMU outscored UD 46-21. The Dukes shot 72% in the second half (18-25) after their 28% first half. JMU also hit 24-of-27 free throws (88.9%).

Bowles posted his 12th 20-point game of the season with 26 on 11-of-18 shooting. He was 8-for-10 in the second half with 18 points. He is averaging 22.3 points per game over the last six contests.

Wells finished with 19 points, six rebounds, and two assists. He finished 5-for-9 from the floor (5-for-6 inside the arc) and went 9-for-9 on free throws. He is 18-of-19 in the last two games at the line. Moore tallied 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor and 5-of-6 at the line. He did not have an assist for the first time this season

Carter led four Blue Hens in double figures with 20 points, five boards, and five assists. Josh Brinkley had 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting with six rebounds. Devon Saddler tallied 13 points and Hagins narrowly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine boards.

Delaware shot 50% as well as both teams were 25-for-50 from the floor. The Blue Hens hit 6-of-16 from the arc (37.5%) and 15-of-18 on free throws. UD held a 32-23 lead on rebounds.

Delaware used a 13-0 first-half run to turn a two-point game into a 23-8 lead 11 minutes into the contest. JMU had just one field goal over a span of 10 minutes, including the run. The Dukes shot just 28% in the half compared to 52% for the Blue Hens as UD took a 33-21 lead into the break.

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