Norfolk State takes down JMU men’s basketball in OT thriller, 74-71

jmu logoJeff Short tallied a career-best 30 points and Norfolk State shot 64 percent over the final 25 minutes while limiting James Madison to 27 percent in a 74-71 overtime win for the Spartans on Monday night in a non-conference men’s basketball game at the Convocation Center.

JMU fell to 7-5 with its third defeat in the last four games and first consecutive home setbacks of the season. NSU improved to 9-5 with its fifth win in six games.

Madison had the largest lead of either team at 34-24 with 3:06 remaining in the first half before Norfolk State closed to 34-28 at the intermission. The Spartans charged out of the break with seven quick points to take the lead and set the tone for the half.

NSU grabbed a 45-44 advantage with 11 minutes remaining on a layup by RaShid Gaston and built the margin as high as six points at 63-57 with three minutes remaining. A layup by sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert (Port-au-Prince, Haiti/Lower Merion (Pa.)) and two Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) free throws following a technical foul cut it to 63-61.

After two free throws by Short, the Dukes responded with two free throws by junior guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) with 1:20 remaining and got a Curry jumper with 19 seconds to go to send the game to the extra session.

Overtime was knotted at 71-71 entering the final minute when Jemel Fuentes hit a jumper in the lane for the Spartans with 27 seconds on the clock. Junior guard Winston Grays (Cleveland, Ohio/Benedictine) penetrated the lane but had his jumper come up empty.

Fuentes went 1-for-2 at the free throw line with 9.6 seconds remaining to set up a final opportunity for the Dukes. After a timeout, junior guard Andre Nation’s (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) 30-foot attempt to tie came up empty.

Kent led JMU with 17 points while going 3-for-5 from the arc and also hitting all eight attempts from the charity stripe.  He also had four assists. Dalembert narrowly missed a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. Curry also hit double figures with 13 points and five assists.

Short was 9-for-19 from the floor and 9-for-10 at the free throw line while adding eight rebounds. Gaston had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with two minutes remaining in regulation. D’Shon Taylor was also in double figures for the Spartans with 11 points and four blocks. Fuentes had seven assists, seven rebounds and six points.

JMU shot well in the opening stanza with a 50 percent clip, including 6-for-10 from the arc. However, the Dukes shot 32 percent in the second half (1-for-8 from the arc) and followed that with 13 percent in overtime. Meanwhile NSU shot 42 percent in the first half before heating up to 61 percent in the second half and 3-for-4 in overtime.

The Spartans led on the glass 38-29 and outscored the Dukes in the paint 36-24. The game featured 17 lead changes and eight ties.

James Madison will break for one week for the holidays and return home for its final non-conference game of the season by hosting Valparaiso on Monday, December 29 at 7 p.m. That game, presented by Aramark, will be a 60’s Theme Night and discounted tickets will be available for parks and recreation participants.


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