Jordan Aaron had five of Milwaukee’s 11 three-pointers as part of a 24-point effort as James Madison fell 77-66 on the second day of the NIU Invitational on Saturday at the NIU Convocation Center. UWM improved to 3-1 with its third straight victory and second of the invitational. JMU fell to 1-2 in the first meeting between the programs.
JMU led in overall shooting and rebounding, but the difference came from the outside where the Panthers shot 46 percent (11-for-24) compared to just 24 percent (4-for-17) for the Dukes. Madison was 1-for-12 at one juncture before hitting three of its last five. However, Milwaukee went 6-for-10 from the arc in the second half to stave off any JMU cut into the deficit.
Graduate student Andrey Semenov posted his sixth career game of at least 20 points for the Dukes, going 8-for-15 from the field with a trio of three-points. He led five players in double figures as freshman Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) had 12 followed by sophomores Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy), Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) and Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) with 10 apiece. Bessick’s scoring career high was accompanied by eight rebounds.
Aaron’s 24 points included a 5-for-10 showing from downtown. The Panthers also got a big lift from versatile post player Matt Tiby, who tallied 16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Austin Arians and Kyle Kelm were also in double figures with 14 apiece.
The game was tied 31-31 at the half and still knotted 35-35 early in the second period when Milwaukee started its move. The Panthers reeled off seven unanswered points to take the lead for good. The score stood at 44-40 with 11:54remaining when UWM recorded four out of five possessions with three points, two on treys and two on three-point plays, to weather two of JMU’s four threes for the game and build the lead to 59-50 with 7:39 to go.
Layups from Cooke and Bessick got JMU as close as 60-54 with 5:52 remaining but fouls caught up with the Dukes as Bessick fouled out and UWM began to convert from the line. The key swing came with three minutes remaining when Semenov had a three rim around the cup and out followed by a made three by Tiby on the end, turning a potential six-point deficit into the largest of the game to that point at 70-58 with 2:24 to go.
JMU shot 48 percent for the game with identical 13-for-27 showings in each half. The Dukes also led in rebounds 40-36 for their second straight game with 40 boards. The Panthers shot 46 percent for the game, including 56 percent as they pulled away in the second half. JMU led in the paint 40-24 and on second-chance opportunities 15-9.
Like the day before, JMU fell behind from the opening tip as Milwaukee opened an 11-4 advantage in the game’s first five minutes. A 5-0 Dukes’ spurt closed it to a bucket before the Panthers reeled off 12 of the next 16 points for a 22-13 lead halfway through the period.
The Dukes began to chip away at the margin and trailed 28-21 when they broke through with a 10-1 run. Bessick began the run with a pair of layups. A layup by Kent made it a two-point game and Semenov’s turnaround jumper made it 29-29 with 3:47 to go. Kent added another layup to account for JMU’s first lead at 31-29 with three minutes remaining. A Milwaukee dunk ended the run and made it a 31-31 game at the break.
Semenov had a season-high 11 points in the first half alone on 5-for-8 shooting. Cooke added eight. Aaron led UWM with 14 points in the half, including a trio of three-pointers.
The Dukes shot 48 percent for the half compared to 37 percent for the Panthers. JMU also held a 22-16 edge in rebounding and 20-10 on paint points.
JMU will close action in the NIU Invitational on Sunday with a 2 p.m. game against San Jose State.