HARRISONBURG, Va., Jan. 26, 2012 - Junior forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) and junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community) combined for 29 points as James Madison turned in its best defensive effort of the season in a 59-47 Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball win Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
JMU improved to 10-11 overall and 3-7 in CAA play. The Dukes snapped a seven-game losing streak in home CAA games with the last league win at home coming exactly a year ago with a 60-52 win over Drexel on Jan. 26, 2011. W&M dropped its fifth straight game to fall to 4-18 overall and 2-8 in the league.
Semenov led all players with 15 points to tie for his third-best scoring output of the season. He added a game-high eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks in a career-high 37 minutes. Davis added 14 points and seven boards to go with a team-high three assists, two steals and a block.
Meanwhile, JMU posted its best defensive effort statistically in five years. The 47 points and 14 made field goals were each the fewest allowed since a 62-47 home win over Delaware on Jan. 3, 2007. The Dukes also held an opponent under 30 percent shooting from the field (29.5 percent) for the first time since limiting Longwood to 27.7 percent in an 84-52 win on Dec. 5, 2007.
W&M scored 15 of its 47 points (32 percent) at the free throw line as, just like the first meeting on Jan. 4, guard Brandon Britt did most of his damage at the charity stripe, going 8-for-9 and finishing with a team-high 14 points. Forward Tim Rusthoven chipped in 10 points before fouling out with three minutes remaining.
The game was tightly-contested for the first 30 minutes with neither team claiming a lead larger than four until Semenov's three with 9:17 remaining to make it 40-34. That basket came as part of a 10-0 JMU run, which proved to be the difference in the game.
Trailing 34-33 after exchanging the lead five times in the first six minutes of the second half, junior guard Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) put the Dukes on top with a pair of free throws to make it 35-34. Semenov hit a two-point jumper and added his three for the 40-34 score. Senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) added another three to cap the run and make it 43-34 with eight minutes on the clock.
Altogether, W&M went scoreless for seven minutes until a free throw by freshman guard Marcus Thornton stopped the run. That came as part of a 10-minute stretch without a layup for the Tribe spanning a Rustoven layup at the 14:36 mark to a Britt jumper with 4:20 to go as JMU went up by as much as 12 at 49-37.
A couple of turnovers by the Dukes helped the Tribe whittle the margin down to five at 50-45 with 2:26 on the clock, but the JMU defense continued to stifle the Tribe with just one field goal allowed the rest of the way. A steal by Hitchens and breakaway dunk by Davis with 42 seconds left made it a 10-point game again and clinched the 59-47 victory for the home team.
W&M shot 29.8 percent from the floor, including 4-for-17 (24 percent) from the arc. The Tribe did not hit a three-pointer in the final 27 and a half minutes after opening the game 4-for-7 from long range at the 7:29 mark of the first half.
Madison shot 38.5 percent from the field and held an identical 38.5 percent efficiency from the arc by going 5-for-13. The Dukes led the Tribe in rebounds 40-30 for their first double-figure rebounding advantage since a 72-61 win at Towson last February.
It was a low-scoring first half with both teams struggling from the floor. The Tribe got off to a hot start, hitting five of their first nine attempts from the floor, including 3-of-4 from the arc. However, W&M cooled from there as the Dukes fought back to take the lead and go up 14-10.
It was a 20-18 score at the seven-minute mark when both teams went cold. The score froze for three minutes until a Brandon Britt layup tied it at 20-20 just under four minutes. The Tribe went up on a pair of Britt free throws. JMU's first points in five minutes came on an Enoch Hood (Norfolk, Va./Booker T. Washington) jumper off the glass at the 1:42 mark to tie the score. A lay-in by Hood with 42 seconds left accounted for the 24-22 margin at the break.
W&M shot 30 percent from the floor for the half while JMU hit 37 percent. No player recorded more than five points for the half. The teams combined to post 41 percent of the scoring in the half (19 points) in the first five minutes.
JMU plays its second of four straight televised conference games on Saturday at 2 p.m. as the Dukes visit in-state rival George Mason at the Patriot Center. The game will be available on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and The Comcast Network Philadelphia.
NOTES: JMU snapped a three-game losing streak in the series and upped its all-time record against the Tribe to 45-37... W&M recorded five assists in the game, the fewest by a JMU opponent since five by Puerto Rico-Mayaguez in an 88-58 JMU win on Dec. 21, 2002... the Dukes limited forward Quinn McDowell and guard Marcus Thornton to 10 points combined... the duo had teamed for 30 in William and Mary's 68-61 win over JMU on Jan. 4 as the teams split the regular season series for the third straight season... McDowell's seven points were the second fewest in 11 career games against the Dukes... the Tribe began the game 5-for-9 (56 percent) from the field in the first eight minutes before going 9-for-38 (24 percent) in the final 32... Devon Moore started at point guard and contributed eight points despite a cast on his shooting wrist due to an injury suffered late in Saturday's loss to Hofstra... JMU held a 19-0 advantage in second-chance points... the game was played as part of a women's and men's doubleheader with the JMU women handling Georgia State 76-45.