Dukes Edge Towson
Get Revenge In 75-70 Victory
Posted: February 13, 2013
HARRISONBURG — This one was personal.
Twenty-five days ago, the Towson basketball team embarrassed James Madison, whipping the Dukes by 26 points with a dominant second half. JMU coach Matt Brady wanted his players to know that a similar result Tuesday at the Convocation Center would not be acceptable.
“I was emotionally charged for this game, and I made sure that our guys knew that we weren’t going to get swept by Towson; it was important that we not get swept,” Brady said.
A balanced team effort made sure of that.
Four Dukes reached double figures — led by A.J. Davis, who scored two of his team-high 17 on a SportsCenter-worthy alley-oop slam — and JMU held off Towson 75-70 in a rematch that’s importance exceeded the conference standings.
JMU moved into a tie with the Tigers for third place in the Colonial Athletic Association — just percentage points behind Delaware, which the Dukes will visit on Sunday — but Tuesday’s win in front of 2,957 people was about redemption.
“It was a personal battle,” freshman guard Andre Nation said. “We took it personal, because of what they did to us at Towson, it hurt. I think we took it more personal. We were more locked in this time.”
Madison (15-12 overall, 9-5 in the CAA) suffered an ugly loss at Drexel on Sunday and didn’t arrive back in Harrisonburg until roughly 3 a.m. Monday. While the turnaround for a Tuesday game was quick, it was plenty of time for Brady to fill the Dukes’ heads with ugly stats from their first matchup with Towson, a 73-47 loss.
And there were plenty of ugly stats to choose from. The Dukes shot 25.5 percent from the field that day, were outrebounded 45-33, recorded twice as many turnovers (12) as assists (six) and were outscored 42-19 during the second half.
“I made certain that our guys knew we lost at Towson by the biggest margin of the year [among CAA games],” said Brady, whose team suffered a worse loss only in the season-opener at UCLA.
JMU came out hot Tuesday, scoring the first seven points. Towson (14-13, 9-5) crept back into the game and eventually took a seven-point lead on a Rafriel Guthrie layup with 12:41 remaining in the second half. The Dukes, showing resilience missing a month ago, countered with an 11-2 run, and the teams went back-and-forth until the final four minutes, when Madison clung to its advantage.
“They’re good enough, in my opinion, to cause a lot of damage in Richmond,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said, alluding to the Dukes’ chances in the CAA tournament, a competition for which Towson is ineligible this March because of academic issues. “I think they’ve been a little underrated, under-appreciated. But you’ve got a really good team up here with a lot of talent and pieces and versatility.”
The Dukes were outrebounded again Tuesday, 44-29, but controlled most other categories. They shot a markedly better 46.4 percent from the field, and had three times as many assists (15) as turnovers (five). Senior point guard Devon Moore, who played the final 9:04 with four fouls, finished with 13 points and 10 assists — three more dimes than Towson as a team.
Senior power forward Rayshawn Goins managed 12 points and eight rebounds on a personal cold shooting night, while Nation, who had appeared to hit a freshman wall, shooting 5-for-22 in the past three games, finished with 14 points on 5-for-5 field-goal shooting.
Nation connected on two 3-pointers in the second half, and fellow freshman Ron Curry, who has slumped for much of the new year, made a big 3 down the stretch.
“It’s huge, there’s no doubt,” Brady said of his rookies’ contributions. “With freshmen, you don’t know what you’re going to get in terms of making shots.”
Marcus Damas scored a game-high 19 for Towson, which also had four players in double figures. Power forward Jerrelle Benimon, a Georgetown transfer and the leading candidate to win CAA Player of the Year, recorded his league-high 18th double-double, with 12 points and 13 rebounds. The Dukes opted to use smaller, quicker defenders like Davis and Alioune Diouf to guard Benimon, who said he was a bit uncomfortable in the post.
JMU improved to 10-3 at home, and plays its next two games on the road against the league’s top two teams.
The Dukes were plenty pleased with their performance on Tuesday.
“It’s just scary,” Moore said. “When we play like this, it shows that we’re one of the top contenders in this league. Then other games, we play a month ago and they beat us by 26. It’s scary knowing that on both ends, that we can come out and be the best team in the league or we can come out and be one of the worst teams. We all got the pieces, we just got to put them together.”