WILMINGTON, N.C., Jan. 18, 2012 - Senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) had a career-high 27 points and James Madison used a 9-0 run in the final five minutes to pull away for a 69-61 Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball win at UNCW Wednesday evening at Trask Coliseum.
The win snapped a five-game skid in conference games for JMU, which improved to 9-9 overall and 2-5 in CAA play. UNCW lost its third game in a row to fall to 3-4 in the league and 7-10 overall.
After a pair of 26-point performances this season, Hitchens tallied 27 against the Seahawks, including 17 in the first half when he hit four of his five attempts from the three-point line. He finished 9-for-14 from the field after going 9-for-30 in his previous two games.
JMU led by three at the break and built the margin to as large as 11 at 49-38 with 11 minutes remaining. However, UNCW stormed back with 11 unanswered points, holding JMU scoreless for five minutes and 25 seconds while tying the game at 49-49 with 7:50 remaining.
The Seahawks took their first lead of the second half on a three by KK Simmons to make it 52-50 with 6:08 remaining. UNCW still led 53-52 at the 5:14 mark, but it proved to be the final lead of the evening for the hosts.
Driving the lane and points in the paint, 40-28 advantage for the game, proved critical to JMU's winning effort and fueled the late-game push for the Dukes. Madison reeled off nine straight points, all as a result of penetrating the paint. A layup by junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community) was followed by a Hitchens three-point play on a layup and free throw. A Davis slam and Moore layup put the Dukes up 61-53 with 2:40 remaining.
Guard Freddie Jackson's layup stopped the run and Davis hit 1-of-2 free throws to make it 62-55 with two minutes to go. UNCW had a chance to cut the lead further but forward Keith Rendleman missed his second front end of a one-plus-bonus free throw opportunity in five minutes.
On the ensuing JMU possession, the Dukes worked the shot clock with their three guards spaced around the perimeter. The ball went to junior forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) at the top of the key, and he found freshman forward Enoch Hood (Norfolk, Va./Booker T. Washington) open underneath for a slam.
Following a missed layup for the Seahawks, Hood put back a JMU missed shot to extend the lead to 66-55 with 37 seconds remaining. UNCW pulled as close as five at 66-61 with 15 seconds on the clock, but Hitchens converted three free throws in the closing seconds to clinch the 69-61 triumph.
In addition to the 27 from Hitchens, Davis had 18 points and a career-high eight rebounds. Hood had a career high with 14 points to go with five rebounds. While not scoring, Semenov matched his high mark with three blocks to go with four assists and six rebounds while playing a key role in limiting UNCW big man Keith Rendleman.
One of the top forwards in the CAA, Rendleman finished with four steals, three blocks and 17 rebounds, one shy of his career high. However, with constant double teams, the Dukes limited him to 12 points after entering the game having averaged 21.2 points over his last five games.
JMU also limited UNCW leading scorer Adam Smith (16.3 points/game) to five points, all in the first seven minutes and matching his season low. Donte Morales led the Seahawks with 14 points while Simmons added 12.
The Dukes shot 37 percent from the field and 21 percent from the arc during their five-game CAA losing streak before breaking out for a 47 percent showing at Trask, including 6-for-13 (46 percent) from long range.
UNCW shot 40 percent from the field and hit six of its 18 tries from the arc (33 percent). Both teams struggled at the charity stripe as the Seahawks were 11-for-23 (48 percent) and the Dukes were 9-for-20 (45 percent). The hosts held a 38-37 edge in rebounding.
The first half was played mostly possession for possession. The Seahawks pulled ahead by as many as five at 23-18. The Dukes then ran off six straight points as a three by Hitchens took the lead. UNCW then led 30-28 before an 8-0 run by Madison. A pair of threes by Hitchens, his third and fourth of the half, extended the lead to 36-30 before JMU took a 36-33 advantage into the break.
Hitchens had 17 points in the half on 6-for-8 shooting, including 4-for-5 from the arc. Hood had eight and Davis 6. Morales had 10 points in the half for UNCW while Rendleman posted seven points and 10 boards.
JMU will be home Saturday to host Hofstra at 4 p.m. in CAA action. The Dukes defeated the Pride 62-60 on the road on Dec. 3 with a game-winning jumper by Hitchens. Hofstra fell at Drexel 56-50 Wednesday night to fall to 6-13 overall and 0-7 in the league.
NOTES: UNCW leads the series 32-29 but JMU has won five of the last seven meetings... Rendleman's 17 rebounds were the most against JMU since Ohio State's Evan Turner had 17 in the 2009-10 season opener (Nov. 12, 2009)... Rendleman entered the game ranked 15th nationally with 10.2 boards per game and posted his ninth double-double this season... after a tightly-officiated game Saturday against George Mason with 63 combined fouls and 89 combined free throw attempts, Wednesday's game was a complete turnaround with 31 fouls and 43 free throws in a physical game... the teams combined for just nine fouls committed in the first half... Hitchens had his sixth 20-point game of the season, first in six games.