Freshman guard Jamall Robinson posted a career-high 22 points and Hofstra held JMU to one field goal in the final eight and a half minutes for an 82-71 win in the Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball regular season finale for both teams on Saturday evening at the Mack Sports Complex.
JMU finished the regular season at 11-19 overall and 6-10 in the CAA to finish in a tie for sixth with the College of Charleston. The Dukes will be the No. 7 seed in the CAA Championship and will face No. 2 Towson at 6 p.m. on Saturday in the Baltimore Arena. HU improved to 9-22 overall and 5-11 in the CAA.
Graduate forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) led four players in double figures with 17 for James Madison. Sophomore guards Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) and Charles Cooke (Trenton, Va./Trenton Catholic) added 15 points apiece with Curry adding four assists and four rebounds while Cooke chipped in five boards. Freshman guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) added 10 points.
Robinson’s 22-point night included 8-for-11 at the free throw line while helping Hofstra maintain the lead in the closing minutes. Zeke Upshaw contributed 18 points while Dion Nesmith added 12 and five assists.
JMU shot 61 percent in the first half, including 6-for-12 from the arc, and used a Cooke 3-pointer at the first-half buzzer to take a 41-39 lead into the break. However, the Dukes went cold in the second half to shoot just 24 percent overall and 25 percent from the arc while connecting on just one field goal in the final eight and a half minutes of play.
Hofstra grabbed its first second-half lead on a Nesmith jumper two and a half minutes into the period for the first of seven lead changes over the next seven minutes. A three-point play by Kent pushed JMU in front 56-55 at the 11-minute mark before the Pride took the lead for good on a Darren Payen dunk and a Nesmith 3-pointer to make it 60-56 midway through the half.
A Curry trifecta cut it to 62-61 with 8:45 remaining before the Pride stretched it to their largest lead of the game at 69-62 at the 5:17 mark by scoring seven of the next eight points in the game. The Curry three was the last field goal for the Dukes aside form a layup by Curry with 45 seconds to go as Hofstra hit all 10 free throws in the final minute of play to pull ahead for the 82-71 win, its largest lead of the game.
Hofstra hit four of its first five shot attempts to grab a 9-4 lead out of the gate. Trailing 11-6, Kent, Curry and Cooke connected on three straight 3-pointers for a quick 9-0 run and a 15-11 lead. Another three from Semenov at the 12-minute mark put JMU ahead 20-14 with early 4-for-6 shooting from the arc from four different players.
JMU again built the lead to six points at 35-29 on a pair of free throws from freshman forward Ivan Lukic (Loznica, Serbia/ABCD Academy (Iowa)), but Hofstra countered with an 8-0 surge started by a Robinson 3-pointer and capped by a basket from Upshaw. Two free throws from Stephen Nwaukoni put the Pride ahead 39-38 but Curry drove and kicked to Cooke for a 3-pointer from the left wing with one second remaining for a 41-39 lead at the half.
Cooke had 12 points for the Dukes in the first half with Curry adding eight and Semenov contributing seven. Upshaw led Hofstra with 11 while Nwaukoni added nine and Robinson seven. JMU shot 61 percent overall and 60 percent (6-for-12) from the arc in the half. HU shot 50 percent overall and 30 percent from downtown.
NOTES: Semenov increased his career record for JMU games played to 131 and moved into sixth in career 3-pointers with 168… Cooke climbed to fourth in season free throws and upped his sophomore class record to 139… Kent’s 10 points were just his second CAA game in double figures and first in the last 10 games… JMU was playing without leading scorer Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian), who was suspended indefinitely due to failure to comply with academic standards as a JMU men’s basketball student-athlete… with the regular season complete, JMU finished as the CAA’s attendance leader for the first time in league history both in overall games (3,612/game) and in conference games (3,614/game).