Posted: November 21, 2012
PITTSBURGH - By the end of its third game in as many days, the James Madison basketball team looked thoroughly worn out. Playing under the same circumstances, North Dakota State thrashed JMU 66-44 on the final day of the Progressive Legends Classic's Pittsburgh sub-regional, which was played this week at the Palumbo Center.
"I think we're a little worn down," JMU coach Matt Brady said Wednesday after his team scored its lowest point total since the 2009-10 season.
Continuing their trend of falling behind in first halves, the Dukes put themselves in a 10-point hole at intermission by shooting just 37.5 percent from the field throughout the first 20 minutes. Unlike their first three games this season, they never improved after the break, when they shot a miserable 27.3 percent.
"They played hard and they're a good defensive team," JMU point guard Devon Moore said of North Dakota State, which won all three of its games this week. "Give them all the credit."
The Dukes (1-3) finished 1-2 in their trio of contests, losing to host Duquesne in overtime on Monday and then defeating Youngstown State by one point on Tuesday.
Senior Rayshawn Goins, who drove the Dukes in those first two games, struggled Wednesday. The 6-foot-6 power forward scored just five points on 2-for-10 shooting. He said the Bison defense didn't do anything exotic to get him out of sorts, it just sent multiple players at him.
"They just played good defense and they had good rotations," Goins said.
Freshman Andre Nation led the Dukes with 10 points. Nation and fellow freshman guards Charles Cooke and Ron Curry each played 26 or more minutes, while starting swingman A.J. Davis logged just 11.
Davis, JMU's leading scorer last year, missed a pair of defensive assignments, according to Brady, and was pulled from the game because of that. He returned for the first three minutes of the second half, but was benched for the remainder of the game.
"We were trying to get into a defense and he was very slow to get into it a couple times," Brady said. "When we took him out, he didn't seem like he was eager to get back in, so I didn't make a big deal out of it."
Davis said he was not upset with the coach's decision, and that it's Brady's call to make.
While Madison struggled offensively, the Bison (4-1) did not. They shot 53.3 percent for the game, including an 8-for-18 mark (44.4 percent) from 3-point range. Junior guard Taylor Braun matched a season high with 19 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep.
The Bison's only loss this year was to No. 1 Indiana.
JMU will stay in Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and then travel west Friday afternoon. The Dukes play at Miami of Ohio at noon on Saturday.