JMU roundup: Valpo runs past Dukes

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University junior guard Winston Grays scored 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds, but the Dukes’ men’s basketball team was unable to bounce back from a 24-point halftime deficit, falling to Valparaiso, 79-52, in the non-conference finale Monday night at the JMU Convocation Center.

The Crusaders (13-2) won their fifth straight game and 12th of 13 in wire-to-wire fashion after Alec Peters posted a double-double with game highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds. Two other Valpo players had double-figure scoring in Keith Carter and Tevonn Walker, who produced 13 and 12 points, respectively. Darien Walker led the game with seven assists, while Vashil Fernandez was a force defensively, making seven rebounds and four blocks.

Grays represented the only JMU player in double figures, as the Crusaders held the Dukes (7-6) to 23.6 percent (13-55) shooting, a program-record low for Madison, and outrebounded the Dukes 48-38. Sophomore guard Jackson Kent tallied eight points to go with five rebounds and a team-high four assists, while junior guard Ron Curry scored six points and also pulled down five rebounds.

The Crusaders shot 51.9 percent (14-27) in the first half and held the Dukes to just 17.9 percent (5-28) to gain the momentum early, taking a double-digit lead for good a little less than 12 minutes into the game. Valparaiso put together a 9-0 run to grab a 13-2 advantage a little more than seven minutes in, holding the Dukes scoreless for 5:21. Ahead 22-12, the Crusaders used a 15-1 run to make it 37-13 and JMU would only make one field goal in the final seven minutes to trail 40-16 at halftime.

The second half was improved for JMU in most aspects but JMU never drew closer than 23 as the Crusaders led by as many as 33 points late in regulation.

The Dukes will be back in action on Saturday when they kick off the Colonial Athletic Association portion of their 2014-15 slate with a home game against Towson at 4 p.m.

Women’s basketball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the final non-conference game of the season, No. 24 James Madison women’s basketball suffered a 66-62 setback at Vanderbilt on Monday night at Memorial Gymnasium despite a career high 21 points by junior guard Ashley Perez.

The Dukes fell to 9-2 on the season as they snapped a five-game win streak. The Commodores improve to 8-4 overall, snapping a two-game losing streak.

With the game tied at 62-62 and the shot clock winding down, Vanderbilt’s Jasmine Jenkins was able to get off a shot to give the Commodores a 64-62 lead with 50.4 seconds remaining. A missed shot by JMU left the ball in Vanderbilt’s possession, leaving Perez to foul Rebekah Dahlman.

Dahlman went 1-2 at the line, giving the Dukes the ball with 26 seconds left to play and down by three (65-62). Perez got a solid look at a 3-pointer for a tie, but the ball bounced off the rim and into the Commodores hands. A made free throw by Jenkins solidified the four-point win for Vanderbilt.

Junior guard Precious Hall rounded out the double-digit scoring efforts for JMU with 13 points. Junior forward Destiny Jones snagged a career-high eight rebounds, six on the offensive glass, and added nine points over 18 minutes on the floor.

Junior point guard Angela Mickens accounted for 10 of the Dukes’ 11 assists on 24 made baskets. As a team, the Dukes shot 32.9 percent from the floor (24-of-73), including a 23.3 percent clip from beyond the arc (7-of-30). Madison made 13 trips to the free-throw line, all in the second half, and scored on seven of those trips including a 4-of-4 performance by Perez.

Vanderbilt shot 37.7 percent from the field (20-of-53) with a 33.3 percent shooting average from deep (5-of-15). The Commodores held the advantage from the free-throw line, scoring on 21 of 30 trips.

JMU held the rebounding edge 48-43 with a 17-8 advantage on the offensive end. The Dukes outshot the Commodores 15-9 on second-chance attempts.

Overall, there were 15 lead changes in the game and 12 tie scores. The Dukes held the lead for 22:52 of the game while Vanderbilt led for 5:23, and the teams were tied for over a fourth of the game (11:35). There was never more than a five-point difference between the teams.

Over the first 20 minutes of action, JMU and Vanderbilt traded leads eight times with six tie scores in between. Madison held Vanderbilt scoreless over the opening 3:20 and held them without a field goal for the first 6:23 of the game.

The Dukes headed into the locker room with a 30-28 lead over the Commodores thanks to a big second-chance bucket by Jones in the closing minute of the half.

In the second half and with the game tied at 36-36, a three-point attempt by the Commodores bounced off the rim and Jones fought for the defensive rebound. The Dukes pushed it back up the floor and found a waiting Hall, who drained a three to give the Dukes a 39-36 advantage with 15:29 to play.

Vanderbilt regained the lead at 46-45 after ending a 4:21 drought between field goals, but Perez drained a 3-pointer to put JMU back in front. While JMU trapped Vanderbilt on its ensuing possession and forced a travel call, the Dukes were unable to capitalize and put points on the board.

The largest Vanderbilt lead of the night came off a 5-0 run as the Commodores went out in front 58-54 with 6:49 to play. JMU called a timeout to draw up a play that saw Hall fire off a three-point attempt that failed to go in. Senior forward Toia Giggetts, however, cleaned up the glass and put it back for two to cut the lead in half. JMU committed a steal on the next play and tied the game at 58-all when redshirt-junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey dropped in a put-back jumper with 5:56 left on the clock.

After Vanderbilt built a 62-58 lead, Perez powered into the lane to cut it in half once again with 3:44 remaining. After back-and-forth play, she dropped in a pair of free throws to tie the game at 62-all, the final tie of the contest.

JMU opens Colonial Athletic Association play on Sunday against Towson. Tip-off at the JMU Convocation Center takes place at 2 p.m.