JMU tops Stetson in OT

Senior guard Humpty Hitchens’ (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) deep three sent the game to overtime and junior guard Devon Moore’s (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) runner with five seconds remaining lifted James Madison past Stetson 71-69 in the UCF Holiday Classic on Friday night at UCF Arena.

JMU improved to 7-4 with its third win in its last four games and sixth in the last eight while Stetson dropped to 4-8 with its fifth straight defeat.

Playing under the weather, Hitchens finished with 26 points, including a pair of threes in the final minute and a half of regulation and two more in overtime for 12 of JMU’s final 18 points.

JMU trailed by as much as 10 points at 52-42 with 8:46 remaining before fighting its way back into the game.

Hitchens’ third trey of the game came with 1:22 remaining in regulation to tie the game at 56-56. Former Delaware center Adam Pegg, now a junior at Stetson, hit one of two free throws for a 57-56 lead with 1:08 to go.

After JMU’s next possession came up empty, Stetson ran the shot clock down with Pegg’s layup narrowly leaving his hands before the buzzer for a 59-56 Hatters’ lead with 10 seconds remaining.

On JMU’s final possession, Hitchens swished a deep three from the top of the arc, his fourth of the game, with four seconds remaining to send the contest to overtime.

In the extra session, Moore hit a pair of free throws to give JMU its first lead since it was 40-37 early in the second half. The game was scoreless for two minutes until a pair of free throws by Stetson’s Amara Thompson to knot the game at 61-61 with 2:42 to go.

On the next Dukes’ possession, Hitchens connected on his fifth trey, a contested shot from the right baseline, to put his ahead 64-61 at the 2:20 mark. Stetson answered with a bucket by Aaron Graham but JMU junior Alioune Diouf (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) put back Moore’s missed three-pointer to keep Madison up 66-63.

Joel Naburgs hit a three from the left wing to tie the game for Stetson at 66-66 with 1:33 to go in the extra session, but Hitchens followed at the one-minute mark with his sixth trifecta of the game for a 69-66 advantage.

Stetson ran 20 seconds off the clock and Pegg converted a three-point play with 39.5 seconds remaining to again tie the score at 69-69.

The Dukes called timeout with 19 seconds remaining to set up the final play. Madison ran the shot clock down to the final second and Moore’s runner in the lane just floated over the rim and in with five seconds left. A final heave of a deep three by Graham came close but clanged off the right side of the rim as JMU clinched the 71-69 triumph.

Hitchens was named to the All-Tournament Team for the Dukes after matching career highs with his 26 points and six made three-pointers. Moore tallied 10 points, five assists and four boards.

Graham topped his career high with 26 points for Stetson to go with nine rebounds. Pegg added 19 points and six boards. Naburgs totaled 11 points, five boards and five assists.

The Hatters shot 44 percent compared to 38 percent for the Dukes and led in rebounding 43-38. However, Stetson committed 21 turnovers compared to 11 for JMU, which led to a 20-10 advantage in points off turnovers for the Dukes. SU entered the day last in the nation out of 338 teams in turnovers per game.

It was a close first half with six lead changes as Stetson took a 26-25 lead into the break. The Dukes grabbed momentum out of the half, using an 11-2 run to move in front 36-28 just two minutes into the half.

Madison still led 40-34 when Stetson reeled off a 15-0 run thanks to five consecutive three-point possessions. Now leading 49-40, the Hatters maintained control despite going scoreless for nearly five minutes as the Dukes cut the margin to 52-51 with four minutes to go.

Stetson, however, stayed in front the rest of the way by a narrow margin with the exception of the two tying three-pointers by Hitchens.

The game started slowly as JMU got its first bucket three and a half minutes in on a layup by Hitchens. The Dukes then took their first lead on a three by Hitchens at the 12-minute mark.

Stetson pulled ahead 17-13 before the teams traded mini runs. A driving slam by junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Christian) and a turnaround jumper in the lane by Diouf tied the score under eight minutes, and a deep jumper by freshman forward Enoch Hood (Norfolk, Va./Booker T. Washington) gave JMU the lead.

The Hatters followed that with a three from Graham and a basket by Thompson to reclaim the lead at 22-19. Madison pulled within a basket at 26-25 and had a chance to take the lead on the final possession but could not convert.

Hood topped his career high with all eight of his points in the opening half while Hitchens added seven. Graham had 10 for Stetson while Pegg added eight. The teams combined to hit just three of 20 attempts from the arc in the first half.

With the 2011 portion of its schedule in the rearview mirror, JMU now embarks on a busy month of January with 12 games on the ledger, beginning with a 3 p.m. home game Monday, Jan. 2 against Old Dominion. It will be Purple Out day at the Convo with free admission for all fans wearing purple.

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