HARRISONBURG, Va., – A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community School) caught fire from the arc for seven second-half three-point field goals as part of a 27-point night to lead James Madison past William and Mary in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU won for the fifth time in six games to improve to 14-11 overall. Coupled with a loss by Delaware, the Dukes climbed back into second place in the CAA at 8-4, tied with Towson. W&M fell to 9-13 overall and 3-8 in the CAA.
After JMU went 0-for-6 from long range in the first half, Davis caught fire in the second stanza. He scored 23 of his 27 points in the period while making seven of his nine second-half tries from the arc. Overall he was 9-for-13 from the field with five rebounds and two steals.
Not to be overshadowed, senior point guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) tallied his second double-double in 113 career games. He scored 17 points while matching his career high with 12 assists.
JMU survived a hot shooting performance by W&M thanks to its own effort from the arc combined with pressure defense. The Tribe shot 52 percent (14-for-27) from the arc and 53 percent from the field but committed 14 turnovers, which led to a 25-0 advantage for JMU on points off turnovers, including 9-0 on fast breaks. The Dukes went 9-for-14 from the arc in the second half (64 percent) after the 0-for-6 first half and shot 51 percent overall.
The Dukes trailed by two late in the first half when a putback slam by Davis tied the score at 30-30 at the break. That basket started a 10-0 run that put JMU in the lead for good after a back-and-forth first half. W&M went scoreless for five minutes and 17 seconds during the run for JMU to grab a 38-30 lead.
The Tribe cut the margin to 38-35 at the 15:17 mark before the key stretch for the Dukes. Madison went five consecutive trips across the court with three points as part of a 15-6 push to grab a 53-41 lead at the 12-minute mark. Davis had three treys as part of the 15 points while Curry also had a three and Moore added a conventional three-point play.
W&M never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way. JMU built its lead to as large as 16 at 66-50 with 5:19 to go before going on to record the 81-71 victory.
Sophomore guard Marcus Thornton led the Tribe with 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting. He hit 21 at the 12:55 mark of the second half and had just one point the rest of the way with Moore switching to the defensive assignment against him.
W&M placed three other players in double figures. Tim Rusthoven narrowly missed a double-double with 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Kyle Gaillard and Brandon Britt each had 10 points and three assists.
For JMU, freshman guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) was also in double figures with 10 points, four rebounds and three steals. He reached 10 points for the fifth time in six games. Fellow freshman guard Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) had seven points with a career-high eight rebounds.
Cooke’s success on the glass came as part of a 32-27 advantage on the glass for Madison, which led its opponent in rebounds by at least five for the fifth time in six games. JMU had 10 steals compared to one for W&M and posted a season-high 21 assists.
The first half began with back-and-forth swings with five points by the Tribe followed by six by the Dukes then six by W&M for an 11-6 Tribe lead through the first five minutes. Trailing 12-10, Madison ripped off eight straight points for an 18-12 advantage. The Dukes were able to build the lead thanks to seven W&M turnovers, which led to a 12-0 lead on points off turnovers.
The Tribe answered again to take a 23-22 lead and maintained that margin for most of the remainder of the half. Davis closed the half with a putback slam to send the teams to the locker room knotted at 30-30.
W&M at one point was shooting 10-for-14 from the floor, including 6-for-8 from the arc, but missed its last eight tries of the half to help JMU build some momentum.
With JMU as high as second place in the CAA at the two-thirds mark of the season for the first time in 13 years, the Dukes will close the year with five of their final six league games on TV. That run begins Sunday night at 7 p.m. game at Drexel with televised coverage on Comcast SportsNet (Mid-Atlantic, Philadelphia) and Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).
NOTES: Moore became the second player in JMU history to post three separate seasons of 100 assists, joining former teammate Pierre Curtis… Moore’s night of 12 assists gave him 108 for the season and 438 in his career, 25 shy of Curtis’ school record (463) with a minimum of seven games remaining… the 12 assists in a game ranks sixth in school history as he became the fifth JMU player ever to post two career games of at least 12 assists… JMU’s 21 assists as a team were the most since 21 against Rider on Nov. 25, 2011 on a night when Davis went 8-for-9 from the arc… the 27 points for Davis represented his 12th career 20-point game but the first this season… JMU is now 5-1 when Davis scores at least 15 points with the only loss being the season opener at UCLA… the 81 points represented JMU’s third-highest total of the season and its second best in regulation… JMU used its 10th different starting lineup with senior forward Rayshawn Goins (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) missing his first game of the season with a foot injury… the Tribe shot better from the floor (53 percent) and the arc (52 percent) than the foul line (47 percent, 7-for-15).