JMU roundup: Dukes remain perfect in CAA

Daily Staff Reports – sports@nvdaily.com

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Redshirt sophomore forward Jazmon Gwathmey scored a game-high 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field to lead the James Madison women’s basketball team to a 69-58 win over Drexel at the Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia, Pa., Sunday evening.

JMU won its 11th straight to improve to 21-4 on the season and 11-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dukes have an opportunity to clinch at least a share of the CAA regular season title and the top-seed in the CAA tournament with a win on Thursday at Delaware. Drexel dropped to 12-12 overall and 7-4 in the league.

In addition to her 16 points, Gwathmey pulled in five rebounds and added a steal. Sophomore guard Precious Hall joined her in double figures with 14 points, adding a season-high seven rebounds, four assists, a block and a steal while senior guard Kirby Burkholder poured in 13 points to go with five rebounds and two assists. Junior forward Toia Giggetts scored 10 points to reach double figures for the 16th consecutive game.

Drexel was led by guard Fiona Flanagan with 14 points, including 11 in the second half. Guard Meghan Creighton chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and three assists while forward Tory Thierolf scored 10 points and pulled in two rebounds.

After a jumper by guard Carrie Alexander pulled the Dragons to within 50-45 with 9:53 left in the game, JMU embarked on a nine-point run to re-establish control. The Dukes pushed the lead out to 14 points on a lay-in by Gwathmey with 6:21 remaining and never allowed Drexel to close the gap to less than eight points the rest of the way. JMU scored its final eight points at the free throw line to salt away the final minutes on the clock.

The Dukes shot 54.3-percent from the field for the game, hitting on 25 of its 46 attempts from the field. That included an 8-for-15 (53.3-percent) mark from 3-point range while Drexel shot 41.8-percent from the field and 27.3-percent from three.

Madison enjoyed a 12-0 advantage on fast break points and used a 38-26 advantage on the boards to outscore Drexel 8-2 on second-chance points. The Dragons converted JMU’s 17 turnovers into 16 points while Madison forced 12 turnovers and converted them into 15 points. The Dukes held an early 10-0 lead on points in the paint, but the only finished the game with a 28-16 lead in the lane.

After falling behind 5-4 early in the first half, the Dukes rattled off 17 of the next 23 point to build a 21-10 lead at the second media timeout. JMU would score the next five points after the media timeout as part of a 13-0 run that put them in front 26-11. That stretch was finally broken by free throw by Fiona Flanagan at the 8:01 mark.

Drexel snapped a drought of nine minutes, eight seconds without a bucket when Abby Redick hit a spinning layup at the 5:28 mark of the first. It ignited a run of nine straight points from Drexel that closed the Madison lead to nine points. It was part of a larger 15-5 run by the Dragons to close out the half with the JMU leading 34-26.

Drexel assisted on its first nine buckets to help it shoot 38.5-percent from the field in the opening stanza. JMU shot 51.9-percent and assisted on 11 of its 14 baskets. Drexel’s one-point lead at 5-4 was its only lead of the game. JMU has only trailed its CAA opponents for a total of 13 minutes, 21 seconds out of 440 minutes of action this season.

The Dukes return to the court next Thursday, Feb. 20 as they take on Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del., for a 7 p.m. game.

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Three East Carolina pitchers combined to strike out nine and limit James Madison to one earned run in a 4-2 victory on Sunday afternoon in a non-conference baseball game at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

ECU won the series to improve to 2-1 while JMU fell to 1-2.

Ryan Williams earned the win, his second of the weekend, with four shutout innings of relief and six strikeouts. He followed starter Tyler Bolton, who allowed two runs, one earned, in four innings. Drew Reynolds tossed the ninth with two strikeouts for the save.

Starter Patrick Toohers took the loss after allowing three runs, one earned, and six hits in four innings.

Seven JMU hits were scattered among seven different batters with junior left fielder Chad Carroll picking up the only RBI of the day with a single, walk and run scored.

Outfielder Dylan Brown and shortstop Kirk Morgan had two-hit games for the Pirates with Morgan adding an RBI and a walk while Brown scored twice. ECU stole five bases in the game.

Tied 1-1 after the first inning, ECU broke through with two unearned runs to claim the lead for good in the fourth. The bases were clear with two outs when singles by Brown and Reid Love put two runners on. An error allowed the go-ahead run to score. Morgan added an RBI single for another unearned run.

Singles by freshman center fielder Ky Parrott and senior catcher Nick Merullo in the fifth were followed by a Carroll RBI single to cut the deficit to one. However, the Dukes managed just three base runners over the final four frames while ECU added an insurance run in the eighth on a Brown triple and a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Ben Fultz.

JMU will play its home opener this week, currently scheduled for Tuesday at 4 p.m. against Longwood.

Men’s basketball
HARRISONBURG – Sophomore guard Ron Curry hit a contested turnaround jumper with 32 seconds remaining as part of his 13-point afternoon to lift James Madison to a 64-62 win over UNCW in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Saturday at the JMU Convocation Center.

JMU improved to 5-8 in the CAA and 10-17 overall while sweeping the season series with the Seahawks. The Dukes have won six of the last seven meetings and nine of the last 12 to tie the all-time series 33-33. UNCW fell to 8-20 overall and 2-11 in the CAA.

Curry finished with 13 points, four assists, two steals and a career-best eight rebounds. Graduate forward Andrey Semenov had a game-high 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting, including 4-for-7 from the arc. He also had two blocks to give him 100 for his career and make him the first player in JMU history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists and 100 blocks.

Sophomore guard Andre Nation tied the school record for steals in a game with seven to go with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. He was 8-for-10 on free throws. Sophomore guard Charles Cooke made it four Dukes in double figures with 10 along with five boards and three assists.

Curry scored JMU’s final six points as Madison pulled out its third last-possession victory of the season. UNCW took its first lead since the midpoint of the first half when Luke Hager hit a layup with 4:18 remaining to make it 57-56.

Cooke put the Dukes back in front with a putback jumper in the lane. After an empty possession for the Seahawks, Curry hit two free throws with 2:53 on the clock to make it 60-57.

Tanner Milson made it a one-point game again with two free throws at 2:33. After a JMU missed contested layup, the Seahawks came up empty on a 3-pointer with the chance to take the lead. Instead, Curry confidently knocked down a jumper from the left elbow to make it 62-59 with 1:32 to go.

JMU played tough defense on the next UNCW possession, forcing the Seahawks into a long 3-pointer near the end of the shot clock, which Chris Dixon swished to tie the score at 62-62 with 56 seconds on the clock.

The Dukes called timeout to set up their next possession. Curry drove the right side of the lane and hit a contested turnaround jumper with 32 seconds showing for what proved to be the game winner.

UNCW called timeout to set up its last possession. Good JMU defense forced the Seahawks into a second timeout with 5.5 seconds remaining. Milson’s contested three bounced hard off the rim to the right with Shane Reybold getting a chance at a fadeaway putback, which missed as the clock expired.

Milson led the Seahawks with 11 points, including 3-for-7 shooting from the arc. Dixon had nine points and four assists while Hager also had nine.

JMU shot 42.6 percent overall and went 19-for-26 (73 percent) from the charity stripe. Nation’s seven steals helped the Dukes tally 11 for the game, their second-highest total of the season. UNCW shot 39 percent for the game and went 7-for-23 (30 percent) from the arc.

The Dukes pulled away late in the first half to take an eight-point lead (34-26) into the locker room. They continued the momentum in the second half as Nation’s sixth steal led to a Cooke fastbreak dunk for the largest lead of the game at 41-28 just a minute and a half out of the locker room.

However, UNCW started chipping away at the lead, and Milson’s 3-pointer with 9:33 remaining cut what had been a 14-point deficit to two at 50-48. JMU kept the lead between one and four points for the next five minutes until Hager’s layup finally pushed the Seahawks ahead for the first time since it was 15-14.

The first half was back-and-forth in the early going with seven ties and three lead changes. The Dukes trailed 13-9 when freshman forward Tom Vodanovich hit two free throws and Semenov connected on his second three to regain the lead.

The Dukes still sat in front 21-20 when they started to build some cushion. It was 30-26 heading into the final minutes, and Curry hit a jumper followed by a dunk from freshman forward Yohanny Dalembert to account for the 34-26 halftime score.

Semenov had 11 points in the first half while JMU had nine of its 11 steals for the game, including five of Nation’s seven.

JMU remains home for the second of three straight in the Convo as the Dukes play their final televised game of the regular season on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Drexel. The game will air on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus, The Comcast Network Philadelphia and Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).