HARRISONBURG, Va. – Senior point guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) went 8-for-8 at the foul line in the final 45 seconds as part of a 13-point, 10-assist night to lead James Madison past Towson 75-70 in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Tuesday night at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU improved to 15-12 overall and pulled into a third-place tie with Towson in the league standings at 9-5. TU fell to 14-13 overall and had a four-game winning streak snapped.
After trailing by three at the break, Towson took control in the early minutes of the second half and gradually built its lead to as large as seven points at 47-40 with 12:41 remaining. The Tigers still led by seven at 50-43 at the 10:50 mark when the Dukes made their push.
A jumper by senior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) and a steal and layup by freshman guard Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) jumpstarted an 11-2 run for James Madison. After two free throws by Towson’s Marcus Damas, freshman guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) connected on a three-point field goal and Moore added a fastbreak layup to tie the score at 52-52. Two free throws by Nation gave JMU its first lead since the 18:27 mark.
A jump shot by Towson forward Jerrelle Benimon was followed by another three by Nation. However, a layup by Mike Burwell and two free throws by Bilal Dixon gave the Tigers a 58-57 advantage with five minutes to play.
It proved to be the last lead for the visitors. Moore managed to tip in his own missed layup to regain the lead for the Dukes for good. Goins hit two free throws to extend the lead to three, and freshman guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) delivered the dagger shot, a three-pointer from the right side to make it 64-58 with 2:38 remaining.
With the six-point margin, JMU never gave Towson a look at a tying basket. Towson cut its deficit to four with 48 seconds left, three with 39 seconds left and two with 28 seconds left, but each time Moore came through with two made free throws on the ensuing opportunities at the charity stripe. He was 8-for-8 at the line in the final 45 seconds while JMU was 9-for-10 as a team to pull out the 75-70 home win.
Moore posted his second double-double in three games but just the third of his career with 13 points and 10 assists to go with three steals and three rebounds. His two first-half steals each led to momentum-building fastbreak alley-oop assists while his last came with 16 seconds left and a four-point lead to all but clinch the win. He also played the final nine minutes with four fouls.
Three other Dukes reached double figures led by senior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community School) with 17 points on 7-for-13 shooting along with four rebounds. Nation matched his third-best output of the season with 14 points on 5-for-5 shooting. Goins added 12 points and eight rebounds.
Damas led Towson with 19 points. He scored the first seven points of the half for the Tigers to singlehandedly put the visitors in front after trailing by three at the break. Two Towson interior players had double-doubles with Bilal Dixon posting 13 points and 13 rebounds while Benimon added 12 points and 13 boards. Mike Burwell also contributed 13 points.
JMU won despite a significant deficit on the glass. Towson used a 44-29 advantage, including 15 offensive rebounds, to gain a 21-8 edge in second-chance points. The Dukes were able to neutralize the disadvantage inside thanks to solid play in the backcourt. Madison had 15 assists compared to just five turnovers and led Towson in points off turnovers 18-6 and fastbreak points 12-4. Towson had just seven assists compared to 15 turnovers.
The Dukes shot 46 percent from the field and 38 percent at the arc, including 4-for-7 (57 percent) in the second half. Towson shot 43 percent from the field but went just 5-for-17 (29 percent) at the arc).
Madison got out to a quick lead in the first half with senior Alioune Diouf (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern posting the first five points as JMU grabbed the 9-2 advantage in the first four minutes. The Dukes maintained a lead of a few possessions for the first 13 minutes until Towson finally made its run.
Trailing 19-13, the Tigers put up the next seven points with Benimon’s first basket of the game, a baseline jumper, giving Towson its first lead at 20-19.
With TU in front 22-20, JMU responded with a 9-2 run, which was propelled by back-to-back steals by Moore leading to alley-oops to Davis and Nation. Madison went on to carry a 29-26 lead to the locker room.
Davis had 10 points in the first half to lead the Dukes while Moore posted eight assists.
After defeating second-place Towson, JMU will take on the new second-place squad, Delaware, on Sunday as the Dukes close the season with three of their last four on the road. The game will tip at 7:30 p.m. with television coverage on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus and Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) as well as Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia, Northwest and Houston.
NOTES: JMU improved the CAA’s best home record to 10-3, which includes 7-1 in league play… Towson had been 5-1 in CAA road games… Moore moved into the season top 10 chart with 122 assists, good for eighth place… he is just the second JMU player with two separate seasons in the top 10 (137 as a sophomore)… Moore is 11 assists shy of matching Pierre Curtis’ JMU career record of 463… JMU played a small lineup much of the game with true forwards Goins, Enoch Hood (Norfolk, Va./Booker T. Washington) and Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy) combining for 43 minutes… Nation had been just 5-for-22 his last three games before going 5-for-5 against the Tigers… he is the second JMU player this year to go perfect from the field with at least five attempts, something JMU had not done since Denzel Bowles was 10-for-10 on Dec. 1, 2010… senior guard/forward Diouf had eight points after posting a total of five points in the previous seven games combined… the Dukes improved to 6-1 when Davis scores at least 15 points with the only loss in the season opener at nationally-ranked UCLA… JMU improved to 27-11 all-time against Towson, including 16-3 at home… Madison evened the season series after dropping a 73-47 decision at Towson in January… Moore posted his 66th career game in double figures while Goins had his 34th, including his team-leading 20th of the season… six of Nation’s 13 games in double figures have come in the last eight contests.