JMU roundup: Dukes outlast Blue Hens for men’s basketball win

HARRISONBURG — Behind a season-high 88 points and several career highs, James Madison outlasted Delaware for an 88-82 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball victory Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center.

The victory improved Madison to 13-9 overall and 6-3 in CAA play while the Blue Hens dropped to 4-16 overall and 3-6 in conference action.

Four JMU players scored in double figures, led by career nights by sophomore guard Jackson Kent and sophomore forward Tom Vodanovich. Kent poured in a career-best 19 points while hitting 5-for-9 from beyond the arc to tie his single-game best in treys made. Vodanovich turned in the single-best point total of his career as well, scoring 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting. He also led the Dukes with eight rebounds and had two blocks.

Sophomore forward Yohanny Dalembert also had 17 points and two blocks, while junior guard Ron Curry rounded out JMU’s double-figure scorers with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Curry also tied his season-best totals of seven rebounds and eight assists, a game high.

Marvin King-Davis led the way for the Blue Hens with a game- and career-high 31 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He also knocked down 11-of-13 shots from the free-throw line. Both Devonne Pinkard and Chivarsky Corbett each chipped in 12 points, while Kyle Anderson added 10 points in the losing effort.

The Dukes accrued the third-best shooting percentage of the season, finishing the night at 54.2 percent (32-of-59) from the floor while making eight 3-pointers and knocking down 76.2 percent (16-of-21) of their free throws. They held a narrow 36-33 rebounding advantage while holding the Blue Hens to 44.6 percent (29-of-65) shooting. UD shot well from beyond the arc, converting 12 treys at 44.4 percent (12-of-27), and hit 75 percent (12-of-16) from the free-throw line.

Both teams had great ball control, tallying just five turnovers apiece and dished out a combined 34 assists in a game that produced 10 ties and 11 lead changes.

Both teams overcame a sluggish start in the first half and with JMU leading 17-16, back-to-back treys by Corbett gave Delaware a 22-17 lead with 9:41 left. The Hens extended their lead to 27-19 on another Corbett triple but the Dukes came right back in a run to not just erase the deficit but also take the lead. Down six, a Vodanovich layup sparked a 14-2 JMU run over the final 4:51 to take a 40-34 halftime lead as Delaware was held without a point for the final 3:35 of the frame.

Going up 10 early in the second half after a fast-break layup by Dalembert with 16:53 to play to make it 46-36, the Dukes kept Delaware at arm’s length until the Blue Hens, sparked by back-to-back 3-pointers by Pickard, went on a 12-4 run to tie the game at 61 with 8:58 left.

Down the stretch, the two teams traded leads three times and were tied five before a Curry bucket and foul with 2:54 left put the Dukes ahead 76-73. Up by just one, Vodanovich scored in the lane and the Dukes made all eight free-throw attempts in the final 34 seconds to seal the win.

Madison returns to action Saturday at 4 p.m. when it hosts William & Mary. That game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet, The Comcast Network and SportsNet New York.


RICHMOND — Following a record-breaking season in 2014, the James Madison softball team was selected as the consensus pick to win the 2015 Colonial Athletic Association title on Wednesday, according to a vote by the league’s eight head coaches.

The Dukes received a first-place vote from every opposing coach in the conference and tallied 56 points in the preseason poll.

JMU finished 2014 with a 45-15 record, which set school records for most wins and fewest losses in a single season. The Dukes captured the CAA regular-season title for the first time in team history and won their second-ever CAA championship, the first coming back in 2009.

Madison earned its first national ranking following the championship run, entering the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll at No. 25. Entering the 2015 season, the Dukes are the first team outside the top 25 by a mere four points. JMU is also receiving votes in the Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll.

JMU returns its top two pitchers in junior Jailyn Ford and senior Heather Kiefer, as the duo accounted for all but one win last season.

Ford was recognized as the program’s first All-American, being named a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Second Team All-American after going 24-7 with a 1.26 ERA, 233 strikeouts, 21 complete games and four saves in 228.2 innings pitched. She was also named Pitcher of the Year by both the CAA and the Eastern College Athletic Conference while garnering Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) Player of the Year honors.

Kiefer completed 2014 with a 20-8 record with a 2.04 ERA, 71 strikeouts, 14 complete games and three saves in 161.2 innings pitched. Both pitchers were named NFCA First Team All-Northeast Region and Kiefer was a Second Team All-CAA pitcher behind Ford, who was a first teamer.

The Dukes also return seven of nine field starters, including junior catcher Erica Field , who was named 2014 CAA co-Defensive Player of the Year, and sophomore utility player Niki Prince, who was honored as the CAA Rookie of the Year a season ago. JMU also adds nine freshmen to the roster this season, making it one of the younger teams in the country.

Following Madison in the predicted order of finish was College of Charleston in second (48 points), Hofstra in third (46 – 1 first-place vote) and Towson in fourth (37). The bottom half consisted of Delaware in fifth (29), Elon sixth (28), UNCW seventh (21) and Drexel eighth (15).