Freshman guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) posted a career-high 17 points, including 10 straight for James Madison over a key second-half stretch, in a 58-56 victory over the College of Charleston in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Saturday afternoon at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU halted a four-game conference skid to improve to 7-13 overall and 2-4 in the CAA. It was Madison’s first-ever win over CAA newcomer, CofC, which fell to 11-10 overall and 3-3 in the league.
Kent had scored 14 total points in JMU’s first five league games before emerging with 17 for the afternoon to go with five rebounds. Sophomore guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) added 15 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Sophomore guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) added 12 points and three assists.
Willis Hall led all players with 22 points and eight rebounds for Charleston. Adjehi Baru added a double-double of 13 points, 13 boards and three blocks.
Nation scored seven of JMU’s first nine points in the second half as the Dukes maintained the lead 37-31 through the first five minutes. However, with Madison ahead 40-36, CofC reeled off six points with Theo Johnson’s three giving the Cougars their first lead at 42-40 since 23-21 in the first half.
Kent took over during the middle portion of the second half for the Dukes, posting 10 straight JMU points over one stretch. His third three of the night tied it at 48-48. He added a layup and a pair of free throws to push the Dukes in front 52-48 and break his career high.
JMU led 56-51 with five minutes to go when Nori Johnson hit a three to cut it to 56-54. The score stuck there for nearly three minutes as the teams traded turnovers and missed shots.
Nation hit 1-of-2 free throws with two minutes to go to make it 57-54. Again the score held until Baru was fouled on a loose ball with 28 seconds left. He hit both at the line to cut the score to 57-56. Curry was fouled two seconds later and hit 1-of-2 to make it 58-56.
Charleston got the ball to Baru in the post in the final seconds, but he was double teamed. He kicked to the left corner, where Anthony Stitt’s buzzer three came up short.
JMU shot 41 percent overall and 6-for-12 from the arc. The Dukes maintained their season-long 61 percent mark from the foul line (16-for-26). Charleston shot 43 percent overall but just 5-for-21 (24 percent) on 3-point attempts.
The teams traded short runs in the early minutes with Charleston going 6-0, JMU tying 6-0 and the Cougars going ahead again 12-6. The Cougars stretched the lead to 18-11 when JMU took over.
The Dukes reeled off eight unanswered points, taking their first lead on a reverse layup from Kent with an assist from Nation. Charleston briefly reclaimed the lead at 23-19 before JMU rolled nine more points to end the period with Curry’s layup at the buzzer pushing Madison in front 28-23 at the break.
JMU shot 50 percent in the half, including 3-of-6 from the arc, while CofC shot 38 percent, 3-for-12 from long range. JMU led first-half rebounds 16-14 after CofC had led the rebounding battle 44-27 just 18 days earlier.
Kent and Nation had seven points apiece for JMU while Semenov added six points and six boards. Hall had 11 for the Cougars, who weathered foul trouble with starters Anthony Thomas and Nori Johnson each picking up two in the first three minutes while Thomas and Stitt each picked up three in the half.
JMU travels to Boston on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. CAA contest at Northeastern.