James Madison led by as much as 11 in the first half but could not hang on to the advantage, as East Carolina surged to a 70-58 victory in men’s basketball on Saturday evening at Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.
The Dukes (6-3) forced the Pirates (5-5) into 14 first-half turnovers to build the double-digit lead in the opening 20 minutes, and despite shooting 46 percent (11-24) in the second half, 12 JMU turnovers doomed its chances to pick up its first road win as the hosts shot 54 percent (13-24) to outscore the Dukes 45-30.
Junior guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) led the Dukes offense with a team-best 13 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Freshman guard Joey McLean (Greensboro, N.C./High Point Christian), who returned after missing the last seven games due to an injury, filled the stat sheet with season-highs of 10 points, five assists and five steals. Sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Lower Merion (Pa.)) contributed 9 points and a team-high seven rebounds while two others scored nine and eight points in the loss.
ECU’s Terry Whisnant led all scorers with 25 points, hitting four 3-pointers, while adding seven rebounds. Caleb White scored all of his 16 points after halftime and B.J. Tyson added 14 points off the bench while Michael Zangari (10 rebounds) and Antonio Robinson (8 assists) had respective game-highs in rebounds and assists.
For the game, the Pirates shot 46 percent (22-48) while holding the Dukes to 40 percent (19-47). Both teams struggled from the free throw line, missing a combined 23 attempts as ECU was 63 percent (20-32) to JMU’s 56 percent (14-25). The Pirates controlled the boards 38-26, including a 12-7 edge on the offensive glass. JMU bested East Carolina in one team category, making 12 steals to ECU’s seven.
ECU led 3-1 in the opening minutes but a dunk by Dalembert created a 13-0 run and the Dukes held ECU scoreless for 7:53 to lead 14-3 with 12:24 remaining. A Curry 3-pointer put the Dukes up 17-6 but the Pirates answered with a 9-0 run in 2:05 to close the gap to 17-15 with just more than six minutes until halftime. The Dukes came right back with the game’s next six points to lead by eight, but it was followed by eight straight from ECU to tie the game at 23-23. JMU scored five of the next seven to take a 28-25 advantage to the locker room.
Trailing 32-30 early in the second, the Pirates took their first lead since 3-1 after they used a 7-0 surge to lead 37-32 with 14:56 to play. JMU chipped away at the deficit and regained the lead with eight in a row over 1:42 to grab a 44-41 lead with 10:41 left. With JMU ahead 51-49, a White layup tied the game at 51 with just over seven minutes on the clock and that bucket started an 8-0 run by ECU, giving them a 57-51 lead with a little less than five to go. JMU never mustered another run of its own and was held scoreless over the final 2:28 to fall in its second straight road outing.
The Dukes will be back in action on Wednesday, Dec. 13, when they travel to Muncie, Indiana, for their final non-conference road game against Ball State at 7 p.m. The game can be heard on the JMU/nTelos Wireless Broadcast Network and on wsva AM 550 with Mike Schikman and Curt Dudley on the call.