JMU roundup: Dukes crush Ball State in men’s basketball

MUNCIE, Indiana – Four players scored in double figures and James Madison shot better than 50 percent from the floor to pick up its largest men’s basketball road victory in four years with a 72-52 wire-to-wire triumph against Ball State Wednesday night at Worthen Arena.

The Dukes (6-3) pulled away in the second half by virtue of shooting 62 percent (18-29) over the final 20 minutes and limiting the Cardinals (3-5) to only 33 percent (9-27) in the largest margin of victory on the road since Dec. 11, 2010, when they won 78-57 at Radford. Junior guard Ron Curry led all scorers with a game-high 15 points while also bringing down a season-best seven rebounds and five assists.

Junior guard Winston Grays produced 11 points, to go with six boards while sophomore forward Paulius Satkus and freshman forward Hari Hall each contributed 10 points. Satkus also had six rebounds and a career-high five assists, sharing the team-high honor with Curry.

Madison shot 51 percent (27-53) for the game while holding BSU to 30 percent (17-57), marking JMU’s best shooting percentage defense of the year. It dominated the glass by a 44-27 margin and held advantages in blocks (5-1) and steals (6-4). The Dukes also outscored the Cardinals 36-14 in the paint (32-8 in the second half) and 14-0 in transition.

The Dukes defense held all BSU players to single digits, marking the first time since Jan. 4 against UNCW that all players on the opposition failed to score at least 10 points. Franko House and Zavier Turner both scored nine points while two others added eight each. Turner also dished out a game-best six assists in Ball State’s first home loss of the season.

JMU surged out to an early lead, scoring 11 of the game’s first 13 points in the opening five minutes. Ball State trimmed the deficit back to three at 17-14, but Grays scored the next seven points as an 8-0 run put the Dukes ahead 25-14 with 4:58 remaining. Down 27-16, the Cardinals hit three of their next five shots to get the game back to four points but a Hall trey in the final minute gave Madison a 30-23 halftime lead.

BSU cut into JMU’s lead again early in the second, reeling off seven in a row over 1:14 to trail 36-32. The Dukes answered back, putting the game out of reach, with an 18-2 run on 9-of-10 shooting in less than six minutes to grow the lead to 20 at 54-34 with 10:48 to play. JMU extended the lead to as many as 24 after continuing its strong shooting at 12-of-13 from the floor from the beginning of the large run. Ball State never drew closer than 16 down the stretch.

The Dukes open up a four-game home stand Saturday, Dec. 20 as they return home to host High Point at 5 p.m. inside the JMU Convocation Center in the second game of a double-header. Fans can purchase one ticket to receive admission for both games as the JMU women host Hampton at 2 p.m.

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