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Rhode Island blasts JMU, 79-60

Led by 22 points from forward Orion Outerbridge, Rhode Island grabbed the early lead and controlled the final 28 minutes while defeating James Madison 79-60 on the opening night of the 2011 UCF Holiday Classic on Thursday at UCF Arena.

JMU fell to 6-4 after seeing its three-game road winning streak snapped. The Dukes had won four games in a row away from home and five of six overall. URI snapped an eight-game losing streak while improving to 2-11.

The Rams gradually pulled away from a two-point lead at 20-18 at the midpoint of the first half. They took a 38-26 lead into the break and controlled most of the action in the second half.

JMU scored the first two buckets after the break to pull within eight and trailed by nine at 45-36 with 13:21 to go. However, the Dukes couldn’t cut the margin below double figures as the Rams went up 61-43 with 7:34 to go.

Madison did manage one final push, cutting it to 63-52 with five minutes to go, but the Dukes were unable to take advantage of Rhode Island turnovers on the next two possessions and the Rams put the game away on free throws for the 79-60 victory.

Outerbridge posted 16 in the first half and finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and three blocks for the Rams. Billy Baron added 17 points for URI, including 13 in the second half. Jonathan Holton scored 12 points with eight boards and three steals while Mike Powell added 10 points and four assists.

The Rams shot 50 percent from the field and hit seven of their 17 three-point attempts (41 percent). URI led the game in rebounds 43-30.

JMU struggled consistently throughout the game, shooting 35 percent in each half. The Dukes shot just 8-for-24 (33 percent) beyond the arc after entering the game ranked 11th in the nation for three-point percentage.

Junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Christian) and freshman guard Arman Marks (Louisville, Ky./Eastern) each had 10 points for Madison.

Rhode Island vaulted out to a 16-4 lead, putting the Dukes playing from behind from the start. A 9-0 run put the Dukes back in the game at 16-13 after holding the Rams scoreless for over four minutes.

JMU trailed 20-18 when URI pieced together three successive buckets to extend the lead to 27-18. However, the Rams maintained the momentum and built the margin to as large as 15 at 38-23. A Hitchens three from the corner cut the deficit to 38-26 at the break.

Outerbridge had 16 points for URI in the first half while Holton had 10 points and seven boards for a Rams team shooting 48 percent from the field, including 4-for-9 at the arc. JMU shot 35 percent in the half and hit just four of its 14 attempts from long distance.