Key 3-pointers help Detroit edge Dukes
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
HARRISONBURG — It was supposed to be a banner night for James Madison University, but Detroit used a 3-point barrage to rain on the Dukes’ parade.
The Titans hit nine 3-pointers in the game, including two big ones down the stretch to pull out a 71-67 win on Tuesday night at the Convocation Center.
“Detroit I thought out-played us,” JMU coach Matt Brady said. “They got some long rebounds, and some loose balls that we needed to come up with.
“We just missed some easy plays where we gave them some easy shots, which we have to do a better job with.”
JMU unveiled it’s new banners before the game. One of them was for winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament last year, and the other was for making the NCAA Tournament. Last year was the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the Dukes since 1994.
“It felt good to see them,” JMU sophomore Charles Cooke said. “It was just an accomplishment we had from last year. It was nice.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” JMU senior Andrey Semenov said. “In the words of [former JMU player] Rayshawn Goins ‘It’s about time.’ I’ve been waiting for it for a while. Even though I didn’t participate much last year it was still a very special moment.”
The Dukes struggled from the free-throw line, making only 26 of 45 attempts.
“We just missed free throws,” Cooke said. “There’s really no excuse for it. We’re going to scratch this off the board and get back in the gym and keep working on getting better.”
The game was close throughout, but the Titans led for much of the second half. Detroit built the lead to 64-58 on a 3-pointer by Carlton Brundidge with 3:55 left in the game.
Brundidge, who had been struggling so far this season, had 22 points. Brundidge had 15 points in the first half. Brundidge had four 3-pointers against JMU’s zone defense.
“It was just all in my mind,” Brundidge said of his recent slump. “it was just a confidence thing. I knew when I hit my first one, I was like ‘OK it’s there now.'”
A basket by Charles Cooke cut the lead to 64-60. A 3-pointer by Juwan Howard Jr., son of former NBA player Juwan Howard, extended the lead back to seven points.
The Dukes were able to cut the lead to 69-66 with 25 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Cooke, but two free throws by Brundidge helped seal the win.
The Dukes got a big lift off the bench from freshman Jackson Kent, who had all 10 of his points in the second half. Kent had to fill in after starting guard Ron Curry went down with an injury.
“I just went into the second half and I knew I needed to step up and play better, because i didn’t play well in the first half,” Kent said. “I just went out there and played to win. Just got lost in the game and just do whatever I needed to do for us to win.”
Things started off well for the Dukes. JMU soared out to a 13-5 lead, with five points from Semenov.
The Titans (2-2) responded with eight consecutive points, including four by Howard.
The Dukes (2-3) were able to take a four-point lead again, but the Titans rallied to take their first lead of the game at 23-22 with 6:57 left in the first half.
The two teams went back and forth the rest of the first half. The Titans used a 5-0 run to take a 33-32 lead at the half.
Howard had 15 poinst for the Titans, and Jarod Williams added 11.
Cooke led the Dukes with 17 points, while Semenov added 14. JMU was out-rebounded 37-31.
The Dukes have a very young squad with only one senior and one junior on the team. Brady said he is hopeful that the Dukes will be adding more banners to the rafters in the near future.
“I am hopeful we’re able to build on [what we did last year],” Brady said. “That we’re going to do it again sometime in the near future, that it won’t take as many years before we do it again. I really like the young group of guys we have. We need to get stronger, we need to get a little bit tougher. We need to get better defensively. We’re young, and we’re going to need to keep fighting.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd