Dukes fall to Towson in defensive battle

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (JMU Athletics) -- Junior guard Matt Lewis tallied a game-high 24 points on Saturday night, but a stingy Towson defense handed James Madison a 63-48 loss in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball at the Convocation Center.

Zach Jacobs dunks against Towson.

The Dukes (9-16, 2-12 CAA) weren't able to get going on the offensive end, as Towson (16-11, 9-5 CAA) held JMU to just 34.5% (20-of-58) shooting from the floor and a 6-of-22 (27.3%) performance from behind the arc, with the Tigers picking up multiple runs of at least seven straight points to hold the Dukes at bay.

Lewis' performance marked his seventh game scoring at least 20 points in JMU's last nine outings, as he hit nine of his 14 shots, including six of 10 three-pointers. Junior forward Dwight Wilson added 12 points, all in the second half, to go with eight boards.

Senior Brian Fobbs tallied 14 points and nine boards to lead a balanced Towson attack that saw six different players score at least seven points on the evening.

The Dukes opened strong, forcing four turnovers in the first five minutes and opening up leads of 8-2 and 11-6, but Towson used two separate runs of 8-0 to bounce back and take a 36-24 lead into halftime.

Towson kept widening its lead after intermission, constructing a 48-34 advantage before JMU went on a 5-0 run, finished off by Wilson's layup, to shrink the deficit to 48-39 with 11:16 to play. Towson responded with seven straight points and the Dukes would not get back within single digits.

"We just weren't ready tonight. We knew Towson was going to come in and attack the glass and be physical with us, and that was the difference in the basketball game. It took us out of what we wanted to do offensively and we weren't able to recover."

- Junior Darius Banks tallied three steals on the night, giving him 141 for his career and putting him just four behind David Dupont (1979-83) for second place on JMU's all-time steals list.
- Freshman forward Michael Christmas matched his collegiate high with four assists on the evening.
- Junior guard Matt Lewis scored his 1,477th career point on Saturday, putting him just 23 away from becoming the seventh player and third junior to ever reach 1,500 career points at JMU.

The Dukes will be back at home next weekend for the program's final two games at the Convocation Center, beginning with a 7 p.m. matchup against Elon on Thursday, Feb. 20. The Phoenix beat Drexel at home on Saturday afternoon, improving to 10-18 (6-9 CAA) on the year.