Late Ron Curry jumper lifts JMU to 64-62 win over UNC Wilmington
Sophomore guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) hit a contested turnaround jumper with 32 seconds remaining as part of his 13-point afternoon to lift James Madison to a 64-62 win over UNCW in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Saturday at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU improved to 5-8 in the CAA and 10-17 overall while sweeping the season series with the Seahawks. The Dukes have won six of the last seven meetings and nine of the last 12 to tie the all-time series 33-33. UNCW fell to 8-20 overall and 2-11 in the CAA.
Curry finished with 13 points, four assists, two steals and a career-best eight rebounds. Graduate forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) had a game-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from the arc. He also had two blocks to give him 100 for his career and make him the first player in JMU history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 blocks.
Sophomore guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) tied the school record for steals in a game with seven to go with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. He was 8-for-10 on free throws. Sophomore guard Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) made it four Dukes in double figures with 10 along with five boards and three assists.
Curry scored JMU’s final six points as Madison pulled out its third last-possession victory of the season. UNCW took its first lead since the midpoint of the first half when Luke Hager hit a layup with 4:18 remaining to make it 57-56.
Cooke put the Dukes back in front with a putback jumper in the lane. After an empty possession for the Seahawks, Curry hit two free throws with 2:53 on the clock to make it 60-57.
Tanner Milson made it a one-point game again with two free throws at 2:33. After a JMU missed contested layup, the Seahawks came up empty on a 3-pointer with the chance to take the lead. Instead, Curry confidently knocked down a jumper from the left elbow to make it 62-59 with 1:32 to go.
JMU played tough defense on the next UNCW possession, forcing the Seahawks into a long 3-pointer near the end of the shot clock, which Chris Dixon swished to tie the score at 62-62 with 56 seconds on the clock.
The Dukes called timeout to set up their next possession. Curry drove the right side of the lane and hit a contested turnaround jumper with 32 seconds showing for what proved to be the game winner.
UNCW called timeout to set up its last possession. Good JMU defense forced the Seahawks into a second timeout with 5.5 seconds remaining. Milson’s contested three bounced hard off the rim to the right with Shane Reybold getting a chance at a fadeaway putback, which missed as the clock expired.
Milson led the Seahawks with 11 points, including 3-for-7 shooting from the arc. Dixon had nine points and four assists while Hager also had nine.
JMU shot 42.6 percent overall and went 19-for-26 (73 percent) from the charity stripe. Nation’s seven steals helped the Dukes tally 11 for the game, their second-highest total of the season. UNCW shot 39 percent for the game and went 7-for-23 (30 percent) from the arc.
The Dukes pulled away late in the first half to take an eight-point lead (34-26) into the locker room. They continued the momentum in the second half as Nation’s sixth steal led to a Cooke fastbreak dunk for the largest lead of the game at 41-28 just a minute and a half out of the locker room.
However, UNCW started chipping away at the lead, and Milson’s 3-pointer with 9:33 remaining cut what had been a 14-point deficit to two at 50-48. JMU kept the lead between one and four points for the next five minutes until Hager’s layup finally pushed the Seahawks ahead for the first time since it was 15-14.
The first half was back-and-forth in the early going with seven ties and three lead changes. The Dukes trailed 13-9 when freshman forward Tom Vodanovich (Wellington, New Zealand/St. Patricks College) hit two free throws and Semenov connected on his second three to regain the lead.
The Dukes still sat in front 21-20 when they started to build some cushion. It was 30-26 heading into the final minutes, and Curry hit a jumper followed by a dunk from freshman forward Yohanny Dalembert (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Lower Merion (Pa.)) to account for the 34-26 halftime score.
Semenov had 11 points in the first half while JMU had nine of its 11 steals for the game, including five of Nation’s seven.
JMU remains home for the second of three straight in the Convo as the Dukes play their final televised game of the regular season on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Drexel. The game will air on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus, The Comcast Network Philadelphia and Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).
NOTES: Nation tied the school record of seven steals also posted by Fess Irvin on Nov. 24, 1989 vs. North Carolina… Nation’s seven steals marked the fourth time this year that JMU player has recorded at least five in a game… Nation also had a game of five steals while Cooke had games of five and six steals this season… Cooke went 4-for-6 at the free throw line to break Devon Moore’s record of free throws made by a sophomore with 116… Semenov climbed into 18thin career points with 1,158, passing John Newman (1,151)… Semenov had made 17 straight free throws entering the game before missing both of his attempts vs. UNCW.