Junior guard Winston Grays (Cleveland, Ohio/Benedictine) scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds, but the James Madison men’s basketball team was unable to bounce back from a 24-point halftime deficit, falling to Valparaiso, 79-52, in the non-conference finale Monday night at the JMU Convocation Center.
The Crusaders (13-2) won their fifth straight game and 12th of 13 in wire-to-wire fashion after Alec Peters posted a double-double with game highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Two other Valpo players had double-figure scoring in Keith Carter and Tevonn Walker, who produced 13 and 12 points, respectively. Darien Walker led the game with seven assists while Vashil Fernandez was a force defensively, making seven rebounds and four blocks.
Grays represented the only JMU player in double figures, as the Crusaders held the Dukes (7-6) to 23.6 percent (13-55) shooting, a program-record low for Madison, and outrebounded the Dukes 48-38. Sophomore guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) tallied eight points to go with five rebounds and a team-high four assists, while junior guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) scored six points and also pulled down five rebounds.
The Crusaders shot 51.9 percent (14-27) in the first half and held the Dukes to just 17.9 percent (5-28) to gain the momentum early, taking a double-digit lead for good a little less than 12 minutes into the game. VU put together a 9-0 run to grab a 13-2 advantage a little more than seven minutes in, holding the Dukes scoreless for 5:21. Ahead 22-12, the Crusaders used a 15-1 run to make it 37-13 and JMU would only make one field goal in the final seven minutes to trail 40-16 at halftime.
The Dukes will be back in action on Saturday, Jan. 3, when they kick off the Colonial Athletic Association portion of their 2014-15 slate with a home game against Towson at 4 p.m.