Sophomore guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./high point Christian) tied a career high with 18 points but high point used a second-half surge to get past James Madison, 80-71, in men’s basketball on Saturdayevening at the JMU Convocation Center.
The Dukes (7-4) shot 42.9 percent (24-of-56), made a season-high 10 treys and outrebounded the Panthers by a slim 34-33 margin on the evening, but cold shooting down the stretch and a 10-0 run from HPU that ended with 3:19 on the clock put JMU in a hole it could not recover from. The loss snapped a six-game home win streak for Madison and was the most points it conceded in 11 games this season.
John Brown led all scorers with a game-high 24 points off the bench for high point (8-3). He also added eight rebounds and three steals in the road triumph. Adam Weary also produced 16 points with four assists in a reserve role while Brian Richardson added 14 points. The Panthers shot 50 percent (26-of-52) and hit nearly 80 percent of their free throw tries (23-29).
Kent matched his career-high point total after knocking down a career-best five 3-pointers (5-of-8). Freshman forward Hari Hall (Jacksonville, Fla./Jean Ribault) also tied his season best with 15 points off the bench while junior guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian School) and sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Lower Merion (Pa.)) chipped in 13 and 11, respectively. Despite being held scoreless for the first time this year, junior guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) dished out a game- and season-high eight assists.
The Dukes outscored HPU 20-10 in second-chance opportunities but the visitors had a 14-11 edge off turnovers and 45-31 lead off the bench in a game which saw 11 ties and 10 lead changes.
Both teams went back-and-forth in the early going as neither squad gained larger than a five-point lead. Trailing 11-6, JMU got its offense going, scoring 12 of the half’s next 17 to gain its first lead of the game at 18-17 with 9:17 to go. It remained a one-possession game the rest of the half as JMU led by as many as three and took a 37-36 advantage to the locker room.
HPU came out strong in the second, going on a 7-2 run to go up 43-39 with 17:02 to play. Down a pair at 43-41, the Dukes held HPU to just two points on free throws over the span of three and a half minutes as they went on an 11-2 run, capped off by a Hall 3-pointer, to gain a 50-45 lead with 13:46 to go. The Panthers quickly answered with five straight to tie things up at 50-50 less than a minute later.
Trailing 61-58, a Weary layup and a foul opened a 10-0 run for high point as JMU went without a point for almost four minutes, giving HPU a 68-61 lead with less than three to go. Madison never drew closer than six points down the stretch, as it made just four baskets in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
JMU will be back in action on Monday, Dec. 22, when they welcome Norfolk State to Harrisonburg for the second of four consecutive home contests for the Dukes. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The game is presented by wsva and fans who bring an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots will receive free general admission.