BOSTON, Mass., – Freshman David Walker swished a 10-foot jumper from the left baseline with 2.4 seconds remaining to lift Northeastern to a 66-64 decision over James Madison in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game matching the league’s top two teams in the standings on Wednesday night at Matthews Arena.
NU improved to 18-10 overall and clinched at least a share of first place in the CAA at 13-3. JMU fell for just the third time in its last 10 games to drop to 16-13 overall and 10-6 in the CAA while falling out of contention for the league’s top seed.
Walker’s shot capped a back-and-forth second half that saw six ties and eight lead changes. The Huskes held a three-point lead with 30 seconds remaining when redshirt senior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community School) connected for a deep three at the top of the arc to tie the score at 64-64 with 18 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, JMU played full-court pressure defense and forced the Huskies into a wild offensive sequence. Jonathan Lee ultimately ended up with the ball underneath the basket and kicked out to Walker for the fadeaway jumper.
After two JMU timeouts sandwiched around one by Northeastern, Davis leapt to grab a three-quarter court pass at the top of the arc and couldn’t quite get enough on his deep look from the arc. Freshman guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) grabbed and converted the miss but released the ball a split second after the clock expired.
Walker’s shot was one of just two field goals by Northeastern in the final 10 minutes. However, the Huskies benefited from frequent trips to the charity stripe, several set up by JMU fouls following missed shots by the Dukes in the paint. Overall, the Huskies shot 90 percent (18-for-20) at the line and hit 14 consecutive free throws in the final eight minutes until Lee missed one of two with 30 seconds left to open the door for Davis’ tying three.
Davis led all players with 21 points while adding three steals. Moore had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists, placing him one shy of the JMU career record of 463 held by Pierre Curtis. Senior forward Alioune Diouf (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) had 11 points, all in the first half, while freshman guard Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) added 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Ford fought through persistent foul trouble to lead Northeastern with 14 points and seven rebounds while going 7-for-7 at the line. Reggie Spencer had 13 points and Walker added 11.
After trailing by six at the break and an opening basket for Northeastern in the second half, JMU reeled off 10 unanswered points to take its first lead of the second half at 36-34. The teams traded momentum swings until the Dukes were able to build their largest lead at 54-48 at the eight-minute mark.
However, that began the free throw run for the Huskies, who used a 6-0 run, all at the stripe, to tie the game. The Dukes took their last lead on a run-out dunk by Cooke at 56-54 with six minutes remaining.
The Huskies tied it again on a basket by Quincy Ford and pushed the lead to three at 61-58 with 2:45 to go. After a missed jumper for the Dukes, Davis stole a baseline outlet pass and laid it in for the conventional three-point play to tie it at 61-61. Two free throws by Ford and the 1-for-2 showing at the line for Lee set the 64-61 NU lead before Davis’ tying three and Walker’s game winner.
Northeastern shot 49 percent for the game and went 8-for-15 (53 percent) at the arc to go with the 18-for-20 (90 percent) showing at the charity stripe. Not to be overshadowed, JMU had its own solid performance at the stripe, matching a season high by going 15-for-18 at the line (83 percent). The Dukes shot 40 percent from the field and 39 percent from the arc (7-for-18).
JMU led the rebounding battle 29-22 for a 19-2 lead on second-chance points and had a 15-4 lead on points off turnovers in the second half after a 9-2 deficit in the first half.
Northeastern started the game with a quick 7-1 spurt only to see JMU come right back to tie at 7-7. The Dukes took their first lead at 11-10 at the 11-minute mark as part of a 7-0 run to take a 14-10 lead on a three bounced in by Davis.
Madison led 16-13 when the Huskies started their push. They held JMU scoreless for five minutes while using a 10-0 run to go ahead 23-16. The Dukes cut it to 23-20 before NU got a three at the shot clock by Stahl followed by a transition three-point play by Walker to make it 29-20 for their largest lead. Moore scored the last three points for JMU to make it 32-26 NU at the break.
Diouf had 11 first-half points to lead all scorers while Stahl and Spencer each had seven for NU. The Huskies shot 48 percent in the half and went 7-for-12 (58 percent) from the arc. They forced seven JMU turnovers for a 9-2 advantage on points off turnovers. JMU held a 17-10 lead on the glass for a 9-0 margin on second-chance points in the first half.
JMU will play its final home game of the 2012-13 season on Saturday with a 4 p.m. game against Georgia State. The Dukes own the CAA’s best home records in both overall games (10-3) and league games (7-1).
NOTES: In a quirk of CAA scheduling, JMU was playing its first game at Matthews Arena since 2010 with Diouf the only Madison player to previously play a game in the arena… while still trailing Pierre Curtis by one in career assists, Moore passed his former teammate for 16th place in career points with 1,247 (Curtis 1,237)… Nation’s two steals leave him two shy of JMU’s freshman record of 46… Northeastern improved to 11-3 in the all-time series… Moore moved to eighth in career games played with 117.