HARRISONBURG, Va. - The James Madison men's basketball team rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to earn a 65-59 victory over visiting Towson in the Colonial Athletic Association regular season finale for both squads, Feb. 25. With the win, the Dukes moved to 12-19 overall and 5-13 in the CAA and will be the No. 8 seed taking on No. 9 UNC Wilmington at noon on Friday, March 2 in the opening round of the Virginia 529 CAA Basketball Championship. The Tigers fell to 1-30 and 1-17 in the league and will be the No. 12 seed and playing No. 5 Delaware at 2:30 p.m.
The difference in the game was the charity stripe, as Madison converted 20-of-29 opportunities, while Towson was just 9-of-21, including five straight misses while trailing by one in the second half. After getting outrebounded by 30 in the first meeting, the Dukes had a slight edge in the battle of the boards 35-34, while outscoring the visitors 15-8 off turnovers. The two teams were nearly equal from the field, as Towson was 22-of-51 and JMU finished 20-of-50.
Towson came out and scored the first five points of the second half in under a minute to stretch the lead to 34-23, but the Dukes answered with five consecutive of their own to cut back into that lead to make it 34-28. The Tigers continued to push the lead out to nine on several more occasions before the Dukes went on a 11-0 run over 4:12, with an Alioune Diouf (Powder Springs, Ga./McEachern) layup putting JMU back on top and Madison led 51-47 with 7:15 to go in the contest. The visiting Tigers cut it to one but could not convert at the free throw line on five straight opportunities before a 5-0 spurt by Madison to go up 56-50 with just over four minutes to play. Towson did get as close as three at 59-56 with 45 seconds left but the hosts converted 6-of-8 free throw attempts in the final minute to seal the win.
The game opened with back and forth play throughout the first eight minutes, as both teams struggled to find the bottom of the basket and were knotted at 10 at the first media timeout. The teams exchanged leads and were tied again at 13, 16 and 19, the latest with just under six minutes to go in the first half. From there, the Tigers went on a 10-4 run to close out the half and finished with their first halftime lead of the season and the largest margin of the half, leading 29-23 at the break.
Madison was led by redshirt-junior Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) with team highs of 12 points and nine rebounds along with five assists, while redshirt-junior Devon Moore (Columbus, Ohio/Northland) added seven points and a game-high six assists. Five other Dukes chipped seven or more points, including senior Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe (Akron)) who played his final home game as a Duke and tallied seven points and five boards.
Towson was led by Kris Walden with a game-high 23 points, including five three-pointers, while Marcus Damas had 17 points in the effort.
Prior to the game, JMU honored its two seniors at their final home game, recognizing Hitchens and forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) for their contributions to the program.