TOWSON, Md. (JMU Athletics) -- Junior guard Darius Banks erupted for a career-high 27 points on Saturday afternoon, but James Madison fell just shy of a massive comeback as Towson handed the Dukes a 69-61 loss in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball action at SECU Arena.
Banks led the way for the Dukes (8-10, 1-6 CAA) as they tried to climb out of a 21-point second-half hole, scoring 22 of his 27 points in the second half and adding eight rebounds and four steals along the way.
After a physical first half that saw JMU hold the Tigers (10-9, 4-3 CAA) to just 29% (9-of-31) shooting, Towson exploded in the second half, hitting 14 of its 23 (60.9%) shots after the break to put the Dukes in too deep of a hole.
Junior guard Matt Lewis also tacked on seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists for JMU, while junior forward Dwight Wilson added six points and 10 rebounds.
Senior guard Brian Fobbs racked up 21 points to lead Towson on the day.
HOW IT HAPPENED
After falling behind 7-3, JMU went on a 6-0 run with 14:57 left in the first half, culminating in a bucket from Banks, to take a 9-7 lead. The teams went back and forth for much of the period before Towson took a 22-18 lead into the break.
After intermission, the Tigers opened the second half by ripping off a 20-4 run in just 5:18 of game time. The Dukes would battle back, with Banks drilling three consecutive threes to pull the Dukes within single digits with 6:37 to play.
JMU would close the gap to as few as five on multiple occasions, but Towson went 12-of-12 from the stripe in the final 1:19 to hold the Dukes at bay.
QUOTING COACH ROWE
"It's just about 40 minutes of focus for us. Our tendency is to come out the second half comfortable and we can't do that against a good team that's playing well at home. We have to be better than that from the start."
- Junior guard Darius Banks grabbed four steals, tying his season high and putting him sole possession of seventh-most on JMU's career leaderboard at 130, just one behind Ron Curry (2012-16) in sixth.
- The Dukes held Towson to just 16.7% (3-of-18) shooting from behind the arc, tied for their best performance against a Division I opponent this season.
- Junior guard Matt Lewis scored his 1,319th career point, moving him into 13th on the Dukes' all-time scoring list, 43 behind Eric Brent (1983-87) in 12th.
The Dukes will be back on the road next weekend, beginning with a 7 p.m. matchup at William & Mary on Thursday, Jan. 23. On Saturday, the Tribe suffered their first CAA loss of the season, dropping an 84-57 decision at Drexel to fall to 14-6 (6-1 CAA) on the season.