James Madison shot 59.0 percent (23-of-39) from the floor, its highest shooting percentage in four years, en route to a 61-52 men’s basketball win over Towson in the Colonial Athletic Association opener on Saturdayat the JMU Convocation Center.
The Dukes (8-6, 1-0 CAA) bounced back from a three-game losing streak to record their best shooting night since going 59.1 percent (26-44) from the floor in a 79-67 win over Georgia State on Jan. 13, 2011. The victory also snapped a three-game losing streak to the Tigers, as six of the nine Dukes that saw playing time shot 50 percent or better.
Sophomore guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) led the scoring charge for JMU, tallying 15 points, tied for the game high, on 5-of-7 shooting, including a 3-of-4 clip from behind the arc. The effort marked Kent’s third double-digit scoring effort in the last four contests and ninth of the season.
Sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Lower Merion (Pa.)) had a perfect shooting evening, hitting all four of his field goals and all six free throws to score 14 points, while pulling down a team-high five rebounds, and junior guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian School) chipped in 12 points in the triumph. Junior guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) also matched Towson’s team assist total with a game-high six dimes.
JMU limited Towson to 43.5 percent (20-46) shooting and allowed just three 3-pointers, holding its foe to 18.8 percent (3-16) from beyond the arc. The Tigers (7-7, 0-1 CAA), losers of six in a row, won the rebounding war 26-21, including an 11-4 advantage on the offensive glass, which the Dukes converted into 13 second-chance points.
TU was paced by John Davis, who matched Kent with 15 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds, which was a tie for the team lead. Byron Hawkins also recorded double figures with 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
The game remained tight for much of the first half as there were three ties and six lead changes, but neither team led by more than six. Trailing 18-17, a pair of Kent free throws started a 9-2 run to give the Dukes a 26-20 advantage with 2:22left. Kent scored seven of the team’s nine points during that stretch, capped off by his second trey of the first half. Towson closed to within a pair, but a last second layup by Nation gave JMU a 28-24 halftime lead.
The Dukes stormed out of the gates in the second half, producing a 14-2 run on 6-of-7 shooting in less than five minutes to grab a 42-26 lead with 15:11 remaining. Five different Dukes scored during the run, which was capped off by an old-fashioned three-point play by sophomore forward Tom Vodanovich (Wellington, New Zealand/St. Patrick’s College) and a long-range jumper by Kent. Trailing 50-36, the Tigers put together a quick 10-0 run, eight of which came from Hawkins, as they trimmed the deficit to 50-46 with 5:08 left.
JMU came back with six in a row, four coming at the free throw line by Dalembert to push the lead back to double digits at 56-46 with 3:20 left. Towson never drew closer than seven down the stretch, allowing Madison to claim its first CAA win of the year.
Madison has a quick turnaround as it travels down to Charleston, South Carolina, for a Monday night meeting with College of Charleston at 7:30 p.m.
The game can be seen live on CAA.TV and heard on MadiZONE HD SportsNet or WSVA AM 550 and 92.1 FM.