ELON, N.C. (JMU Athletics) -- Junior guard Matt Lewis racked up a season-high 33 points on Saturday evening, but James Madison could not battle out of a first-half hole, dropping an 82-73 decision to Elon in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball action at the Schar Center.
Darius Banks and Deshon Parker - JMU men's basketball
The Dukes (8-12, 1-8 CAA) fell behind in the opening period, shooting just 24.1% (7-of-29) in the opening half despite holding Elon (6-16, 2-7 CAA) to a 13-of-31 (41.9%) clip before halftime. Despite outscoring the Phoenix by a 49-43 margin in the second half, JMU would only get closer than eight in the final 35 seconds.
Lewis added five rebounds to his 33-point game, his first 30-point outburst of the season and the third of his career, to lead the Dukes. Freshman Julien Wooden joined Lewis in double digits with 10 points, four boards and three assists, while junior Darius Banks chipped in with nine points.
Graduate student Marcus Sheffield II racked up 31 points and nine boards to pace the Elon offense on the day.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Both teams battled through an physical opening stretch, with the two teams tied at at 15-15 with 8:27 to play before halftime, but Elon scored 14 of the next 16 points to take a 29-17 lead before eventually pushing the advantage to 39-24 at the break.
The Dukes came out of the break hot, cutting things to 43-34 in just 3:06, but Elon would build the lead back to 17 at the 10:38 mark and would hold JMU at bay for the remainder of the contest.
QUOTING COACH ROWE
"We're going through a really tough run right now. We fought in the second half, but we have to fight from the jump and we have to eliminate the bad stretches. We just didn't get it going against a really well-coached team on their home court."
- Junior Matt Lewis' 33 points pushed him up two spots on JMU's all-time scoring list, as he vaulted into 11th at 1,374 career points, just six behind Linton Townes (1978-82) in 10th.
- Junior Darius Banks picked up his 131st career steal, moving him into a tie for sixth all-time at JMU with Ron Curry (2012-16), just three behind Juwann James (2005-09) in fifth.
- Lewis also hit nine free throws on Saturday, giving him 376 made free throws in his career already, fourth-most in JMU history, just nine behind Kent Culuko (1991-95).
The Dukes return home from their three-game road stretch on Thursday evening, as they welcome College of Charleston to Harrisonburg for a 6:30 p.m. matchup on January 30. On Saturday, the Cougars dropped a 72-70 decision to UNCW to fall to 12-9 (6-3 CAA) on the season.