Sophomore guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) tallied 20 points and six assists and James Madison countered Hofstra’s 18-0 second-half run to pull out a 59-53 victory in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game on Monday night at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU improved to 9-16 overall while matching Hofstra’s CAA mark at 4-7 as the Pride fell to 8-18 overall. The win kept the Dukes in the mix of a crowded pack in the middle of the CAA standings, just a game and a half out of fourth place.
Curry’s 20 points and six assists were each the second-highest totals of his career. He was 7-for-12 from the floor and 6-for-6 at the foul line.
Fellow sophomore guards Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) and Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) supported Curry for the win. Cooke totaled 15 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Nation added 13 points, four boards and three steals.
Zeke Upshawk led Hofstra with 15 points and five boards. Dion Nesmith and Jamall Robinson each had 10 points and six boards for the Pride with Nesmith adding five assists.
JMU ended the first half on a 17-5 run and carried the momentum into the second half for a 25-7 total spell spanning both halves to grab a 42-26 lead. The margin grew to as large as 17 points, JMU’s largest conference lead of the season, at 46-29 with 14 minutes left before things unraveled.
The run started slowly with three Hofstra points over a three and a half minute dry spell for the Dukes. Then the pace quickened for the Pride with consecutive 3-pointers from Zeke Upshaw and Dion Nesmith and a three-point play by Upshawk for nine points in a minute.
Layups from Nesmith and Kone made it a one-point game at 46-45 with eight minutes to go. After another minute and a half of scoreless play, Hofstra finally took its first lead in 19 and a half minutes with 6:27 to go on a pair of free throws from Jordan Allen.
Overall, JMU was held off the scoreboard for seven and a half minutes during the run and went 0-for-7 with six turnovers. Curry’s layup with six minutes remaining finally halted the rally and regained the lead for the Dukes for good at 48-47.
Cooke followed with a three-point play to make it 51-47. Then with a two-point lead and the shot clock winding down with 2:02 to go, Curry converted a key possession with a contested jumper in the lane and a foul for the three-point play and a 54-49 lead.
Hofstra cut it to three on a pair of Robinson free throws, but Curry added two freebies of his own and JMU came up with a pair of defensive stops. The Dukes closed out the 59-53 win at the free throw line to snap a three-game losing skid.
JMU shot 44 percent overall despite going 0-for-11 from the arc, leaving Madison at 57 percent on two-point tries. The Dukes gained significant advantages in transition with a 16-2 lead in fastbreak points and in the paint with a 36-14 lead, primarily on guard penetration. JMU limited Hofstra to 29 percent shooting for the game.
JMU grabbed momentum in the game’s early minutes as Cooke and Curry each scored four points in a 10-2 opening stretch. Hofstra turned the tide quickly, reeling off 11 of the next 14 total points to knot the score at 13-13.
The game featured back-and-forth play over the middle section of the half with the Pride taking their first lead on a Jenkins 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining, making it 19-17.
From that point on, it was all Dukes for the rest of the half as Madison closed on a 17-5 stretch to carry a 34-24 lead into the locker room. The Dukes shot 46 percent in the half despite missing all seven three-point tries. HU was limited to 31 percent shooting.
Curry led all players with 11 points in the half while Nation added nine and Cooke posted eight. Upshaw led Hofstra with seven points in the half.
JMU wraps up a stretch of three games in five days on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. game at league-leading Delaware (18-7, 10-0 CAA).