JMU men's basketball holds on for 75-69 win At Fordham

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BRONX, N.Y. (JMU Athletics) -- Junior guard Matt Lewis totaled 22 points and James Madison held on after a dominant first half on Friday night, as the Dukes closed their non-conference men's basketball schedule with a 75-69 win over Fordham at Rose Hill Gym.

JMU Men's Basketball head coach Louis Rowe

The Dukes (7-4) had two players score in double figures, led by Lewis, who had 22 points, five assists and two steals. Junior guard Darius Banks added 19 points, including 14 in the first half, and six rebounds, while junior forward Dwight Wilson added six points and 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.

In the opening half, the Dukes suffocated Fordham on the defensive end, holding the Rams to 7-of-25 (28.0%) shooting and just one three-pointer on 12 attempts, before Fordham caught fire in the second half, shooting 65.4% (17-of-26) and 6-of-9 from deep as the Dukes held on, making all 10 of their free throws in the final 1:10 to seal the victory.

JMU forced 15 Fordham turnovers on the evening, turning them into 18 points on the other end of the floor. Freshman forward Julien Wooden led the way individually with two steals.

HOW IT HAPPENED
After falling behind 4-2, JMU went on a 9-0 run with 16:10 left in the first half, culminating in a bucket from sophomore guard Deshon Parker that gave JMU an 11-4 lead. The Dukes then added 11 points to that lead by the end of the period and entered halftime with a 37-19 advantage. JMU capitalized on eight Fordham turnovers in the half, turning them into 12 points on the other end of the floor.

JMU started tacking on points in the second half almost immediately, going on a 5-0 run, finished off by Lewis' layup, to grow the lead to 42-19 with 17:17 to go in the contest. The Rams narrowed the gap down the stretch, hitting multiple NBA-range three-pointers as they cut the lead to as close as 65-62 before JMU closed the door.

QUOTING COACH ROWE
"I was extremely proud of the effort and pride we played with in the first half; we know that's the way we're capable of playing. We also know that we absolutely have to play better than we did in the second half as we work to close games out. We're going to enjoy the holiday and then get back to work, because we know there are things we need to work on as we open a really strong CAA schedule."

QUICK HITS
- Junior guard Matt Lewis now has 1,200 career points for the Dukes, making him the 22nd player to ever reach that mark. He is three points behind Andrey Semenov (2008-14) in 21st all-time at JMU.
- The 19 points the Dukes yielded in the opening half were the fewest JMU has allowed in a half since giving up just 18 in the first half of a 64-44 win over Towson on Jan. 2, 2017.
- Junior guard Darius Banks grabbed his 122nd career steal, tying him for ninth all-time at JMU with William Davis (1988-93), just one behind eighth-place Darren McLinton (1992-96).
- Sophomore guard Deshon Parker racked up seven assists, his highest tally of the season and just one off his career best.
- Junior forward Dwight Wilson grabbed 12 boards, giving him double digits for the fourth straight game.

UP NEXT
The Dukes have completed their non-conference schedule and will tip off the 2019-20 Colonial Athletic Association slate with a home match against Hofstra at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28. The Pride are currently 8-4 on the year before closing their own non-conference schedule on Sunday, Dec. 22 against Manhattan.