Sophomore guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) had 13 points and graduate Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) added nine big second-half points as James Madison earned a defensive-oriented 49-46 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball win on Wednesday evening at Matthews Arena.
JMU won its second in a row to improve to 8-13 overall and 3-4 in the CAA while also evening the season series with the Huskies and winning in Boston for the first time since 2007. Combined with other results, JMU moved into a tie for fifth in the CAA standings. NU fell to 7-15 overall and 4-4 in the CAA.
In his sixth game of the season, Nation posted his fifth consecutive double-figure game with 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting. He added a team-high seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. He scored 11 consecutive points for JMU over the final nine minutes of the first half.
Semenov moved into ninth on JMU’s career 3-pointers list with 147 thanks to two second-half treys to go with a conventional three-point play. Two of his three-point possessions came with tie scores in the final five minutes of play. He added a season-high three steals.
JMU’s 46 points allowed was a season low and the lowest in almost exactly a year when the Dukes defeated Hofstra 62-41 on Jan. 31, 2013. The 95 combined points were the fewest in any CAA conference game this season by a margin of 12 points.
Madison registered a season-high 12 steals while forcing the Huskies into 17 turnovers. The Dukes shot 41 percent compared to 38 percent for NU. JMU led points in the paint 32-22 in a game that featured eight ties and 10 lead changes.
Sophomore guard David Walker led Northeastern with 15 points, three assists and two steals as the only double-figure scorer. One of the CAA’s leading post players, Scott Eatherton, was limited to five points but tallied 13 rebounds and three blocks.
After a 24-24 tie at the half, the score remained tight for most of the second half. JMU held Northeastern scoreless for a five and a half minute stretch to pull out to a modest 36-31 lead. The Dukes continued the pressure defense to limit NU to four points over an 11-minute stretch but led just 41-35.
The Huskies quickly pushed the scoring deficit aside as Demetrius Pollard and Walker hit consecutive treys in a minute to tie it at 41-41 with 5:16 remaining. Semenov regained the lead for the Dukes with a three-point play on a tough falling jumper in the lane only to see Walker hit a three-point play of his own.
Semenov stepped up again with a three swished from the top of the arc to make it 47-44 with 3:13 on the clock. NU forward Zach Stahl muscled in a contested layup on the left block to cut it to 47-46, but the next two Huskies’ possessions resulted in a turnover and a missed three.
The Dukes called timeout with 34 seconds remaining to set up a final offensive possession. Sophomore guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) drove the lane and dished to sophomore forward Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy) for a shot-clock layup with eight seconds left. Pollard then missed a contested three at the buzzer to wrap up the 49-46 JMU win, its second final-possession victory in as many games.
Bessick finished with eight points on 4-for-7 shooting. Sophomore guard Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) returned from a one-game injury absence to tally eight points, five rebounds and four steals in 30 minutes. Curry accumulated five assists to go with two steals and six points.
After JMU had fallen behind 10-0 in the opening minutes of the first meeting but scored first on a Tom Vodanovich (Wellington, New Zealand/St. Patricks College) three-point play in this matchup. The Dukes grabbed a 7-2 lead, holding NU to two points in the first six and a half minutes of play.
Northeastern rattled off six unanswered points to take the lead at 8-7. The back-and-forth play continued for much of the half until the Huskies appeared poised to build some momentum with a 19-15 lead. However, JMU responded with a fastbreak layup from Nation and a corner 3-pointer by Nation to reclaim the lead. It came as part of a stretch of 11 straight JMU points for the sophomore guard.
JMU will be home on Sunday, Feb. 2 for a 2:30 p.m. game against William and Mary to be broadcast on NBC Sports Network national television.