Tribe closes out JMU, 68-61

The William and Mary men’s basketball team led for the majority of the contest on Wednesday night and held on late via the strength of 22-of-25 from the free throw line to upend James Madison, 68-61, at Kaplan Arena.

The College held the CAA’s leading 3-point shooting team to just 2-of-23 and shot a season-best 60 percent in the first half to jump out to the early lead. The Green and Gold improved to 3-12 on the season and 1-2 in CAA action, while the Dukes dropped to 7-6 overall and 1-2 in league play.

Sophomore Brandon Britt and freshman Marcus Thornton paced the Tribe attack with 16 points apiece, while senior Quinn McDowell finished with 14 points, including 12 in the second half. He was 5-of-8 from the field and knocked down 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Britt finished an impressive 10-of-11 from the free throw line to go along with 3-of-6 from the floor, while Thornton was 5-of-11 shooting and a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Senior guard Kendrix Brown pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, dished out a team-best three assists and blocked a career-high two shots.

W&M increased its eight-point halftime lead to 10 in the opening minutes of the second frame, before James Madison began chipping away. The Dukes used a 10-2 run to close the gap to 36-34 six minutes into the second half. Devon Moore and A.J. Davis each scored four points of the run. McDowell answered with the 3-pointer from the Green and Gold at the 13:07 mark to push the margin back to five at 39-34, but it was an Enoch Hood jumper from the left elbow gave the Dukes its first lead, 41-40, since 2-0 at the 10:46 mark of the second half.

Brown answered on the offensive end with a 3-pointer from in front of the Tribe bench, but a triple from the Dukes’ Humpty Hitchens at the 9:16 mark of the second stanza gave JMU at 46-45 lead and forced a W&M timeout. Out of the break, the Green and Gold embarked on a 10-1 run to retake the lead and extend it to eight. Britt put the College back on top with a twisting lay-up, before McDowell canned back-to-back 3-pointers. A pair of Britt free throws at the 5:32 mark gave the College a 55-47 advantage.

Four straight Davis’ points for the Dukes narrowed the gap to four, but the College cushion jumped back to eight, 60-52, following a McDowell layup with 3:18 remaining. James Madison would not go quietly, scoring seven straight points to draw within a single point. Alioune Diouf, who finished with 10 rebounds, converted on a conventional 3-point play, before Moore hit a pair of jumpers with the second closing the gap to 60-59 with two minutes remaining.

Following a Tribe timeout, Brown found Thornton with a cross-court pass and the W&M rookie canned a big 3-pointer from the right wing to extend the lead to four points, 63-59. The College was able to five of their final six free throws to preserve the 68-61 triumph.

The Tribe finished the contest shooting 47.6 percent (20-of-42) from the floor and 50 percent (6-of-12) from 3-point range, but the biggest advantage for W&M came at the free throw line where it sank 22-of-25 (88 percent). The Green and Gold outrebounded JMU, 32-30, on the night and did a remarkable job defending the 3-point line, holding the Dukes to 8.7 percent(2-of-23) from long range. JMU entered the game leading the CAA in both 3-point field goal percentage (38 percent) and 3-pointers per game (8.6). W&M also limited the Dukes to 36.2 percent (21-of-58) from the field.

After James Madison scored the opening points of the game on an offensive putback, the Green and Gold scored nine straight points to take a lead it would not relinquish in the opening 20 minutes. Thornton highlighted the spurt for W&M with five points, including a conventional 3-point play. He found sophomore forward Tim Rusthoven, who finished with eight points and five rebounds, for a lay-up to put the College on top 9-2 at the 16:01 mark.

The Dukes closed the gap scoring eight of the game’s next 10 points. Enoch Hood’s follow-up dunk with 11:55 left in the first half cut the deficit to 11-10. Leading 15-14, the Green and Gold scored six quick points to push the advantage to 21-14. Junior guard Matt Rum canned a 3-pointer from the right wing and was fouled. He added the free throw, before McDowell cut to the basket for a lay-up to give the Tribe the seven-point lead with 8:52 left in the first half.

JMU narrowed the margin to 23-22 following a free throw from Devon Moore, before W&M extended its advantage. The College scored nine-straight points, sparked by seven points from Britt. After he converted a 3-point play on the fastbreak, Brown found him for another fastbreak lay-up to push the lead to 32-22 with 50.9 seconds left in the half. The Dukes scored the final points of the opening 20 minutes on a pair of free throws, but W&M took a 32-24 advantage to the locker room. The College shot the ball exceptionally well in the opening half, hitting on 60 percent (12-of-20) from the floor.

A.J. Davis led James Madison with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and four steals. Moore added 15 points, while the Tribe limited Hitchens to just 10 points. He entered the contest ranked fourth in the CAA at 16.8 points per game.


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