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Share of first: Ninth in a row pushes JMU to top of CAA

Senior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) had a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds and James Madison outscored UNC Wilmington 40-20 in the paint en route to a 63-54 triumph in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Saturday night at the Convocation Center.

With the win over UNCW (9-8, 3-3 CAA), JMU (15-3, 9-0 at home) climbed into a first-place tie in the CAA, improving to 5-1 in the league for the first time since 1994-95. The Dukes nine-game winning streak is the longest since 1992-93 and ranks in the top 10 for the nation’s longest active streaks. The 15-3 overall record matches the program’s best 18-game start and ranks top 20 in the nation for winning percentage (83.3%).

Bowles posted his ninth double-double of the season and 21st in his career. He hit 10 of his 13 field-goal attempts and picked up his sixth 20-point, 10-rebound effort. He was joined in the paint by junior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) with nine points and seven boards.

Junior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) filled up the box score with nine assists and six rebounds, each a career high from his JMU and Akron years combined, to go along with three steals and a three-pointer.

Sophomore guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) tallied 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists while junior forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) added 12 points and five boards.

Chad Tomko led the Seahawks with 17 points, six rebounds, and three assists. Keith Rendleman added 13 points and six boards.

JMU led 25-21 at the break as both teams struggled to shoot the ball in the opening period with the Dukes hitting 31% and UNCW 30%. However, JMU opened the second half on a quick 6-2 spurt and built the margin to 11 on a three-point play by Bowles with 11:36 to go.

The Seahawks pulled as close as five on a three by Ahmad Grant with 9:07 remaining. However Moore and Hitchens hit clutch threes on consecutive possessions as part of a 10-4 surge to go up 55-44 with 5:10 remaining. Moore then hit a pair of free throws and three straight buckets by Bowles built the margin to a game-high 14 points at 63-49 en route to the 63-54 JMU win.

JMU finished the game shooting 42.6% thanks to 55.2% accuracy (16-29) in the second half. UNCW shot 36.8% to become the eighth JMU opponent in the last 10 games to be held under 40% from the field.

The Dukes jumped out to an early lead of 12-4 with all of their scoring in the paint. JMU then weathered a scoreless stretch of almost six minutes as a three by Wells and a Moore jumper made it 17-8.

However, the Seahawks responded with a 9-0 run to tie the score at 17-17 and took their first lead at 21-20 on a three-pointer by Tanner Milson with 1:18 remaining. Goins then hit a pair of free throws for the Dukes and Moore swished a three to take a 25-21 edge into the break.

Goins had seven points and seven boards in the half to lead JMU, which shot just 31.3% in the stanza, including 2-of-13 from the arc (15.4). UNCW shot 29.6% from the floor, hitting 2-of-6 threes (33.3%).


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