JMU Men's basketball falls at hot-shooting Hofstra

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HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (JMU Athletics) -- Hofstra made an eye-popping 20 three-pointers on Saturday evening, erasing a strong offensive evening from James Madison and handing the Dukes a 97-81 loss in both teams' Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball finale at the David. S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex.

James Madison men's basketball head coach Louis Rowe has remained positive during a disappointing season for the Dukes.

The Dukes (9-20, 2-16 CAA) played well on the offensive end, hitting 29 of 53 shots (54.7%) from the field and racking up 18 assists, but Hofstra (23-8, 14-4 CAA), who clinched the CAA regular season title in the win, hit 13 of its 21 first-half three-pointers (61.9%) and finished at a 55.6% clip (20-of-36) for the game.

Junior guard Matt Lewis continued his scoring tear, racking up 22 points to go along with seven boards and five assists in a complete performance, while sophomore Deshon Parker racked up 18 points of his own. Freshman Michael Christmas turned in his best recent performance with 16 points and six rebounds in 32 minutes.

Hofstra senior guards Eli Pemberton and Desure Buie led the scoring charge for the high-powered Pride, racking up 35 points and 26 points, respectively, with Buie adding nine assists.

After the two teams went back and forth for much of the opening minutes, Hofstra used an 11-2 run midway through the first half to build a 38-23 advantage, then scored the final 13 points of the period to take a 61-33 lead into the break.

The Pride would push the gap to as many as 34 in the second half before JMU began to chip away, as the Dukes eventually closed the contest with a 15-2 run with the game well in hand.

"We just didn't come out and close down on defense anywhere close to where we needed to. Credit to Hofstra, as they shot incredibly well today, but we need to take that challenge moving forward. I was happy to see the way guys like Julien Wooden and Michael Christmas competed today, especially in the second half, but we have tournament basketball coming and we know we need to be better."

- Junior guard Darius Banks added 12 points and racked up a career-high eight assists, giving him 19 in the last three games.
- The Dukes' 54.7% field-goal percentage is their second-highest of the season, trailing only a 59.6% night in the Dec. 3 win over East Carolina.
- Junior Matt Lewis moved himself into fourth on JMU's all-time scoring list, closing the night with 1,557 points - seven ahead of Ron Curry (1,550 | 2012-16) and looking up at Kent Culuko (1,701 | 1991-95) in third place.

The Dukes will open their CAA Tournament this coming Saturday, March 7, with a 6:30 p.m. matchup against No. 7 Elon in the second of two first-round games. The winner of that contest will face No. 2 William & Mary at 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 8.