TOWSON, Md., Feb. 4, 2014 – Fueled by a 17-2 run to close out the first half, Towson topped visiting James Madison 80-71 in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game Tuesday night at SECU Arena.
Jerrelle Benimon recorded his nation-leading 15th double-double of the season with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while also adding six assists. The 6-8 forward entered the game fourth in the nation in rebounding and top five in the conference in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocks and field goal percentage.
Sophomore guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian School) scored 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting to pace the Dukes, who dropped to 8-15 overall and 3-6 in the CAA. Towson remained in sole possession of second place in the conference, improving to 15-8 overall and 6-2 in the league.
JMU forced six turnovers and had a stretch of 9-of-16 shooting to take a 23-21 lead, but Towson responded with its big run to take a 38-25 advantage into the locker room. The Tigers, who made their final six field-goal attempts of the half, were paced by Timajh Parker-Rivera with six points. Benimon scored five points, while Marquis Marshall and Mike Burwell each contributed a 3-pointer.
Rafriel Guthrie scored a team-high 17 points for the Tigers. Burwell finished with 14 points, while Marcus Damas added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore guards Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) and Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) joined Nation in double-figures for the Dukes with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Cooke led the team with seven rebounds.
JMU’s offensive production was spread evenly in the first half as six players combined for its 25 points. Nation led the way with six, Curry had five, and sophomore forward Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academu), freshman forward Tom Vodanovich (Wellington, New Zealand/St. Patrick’s College) and Cooke tallied four apiece.
Towson led by as much as 20 in the second half before JMU started to chip away at the lead. Nation and Curry scored seven points apiece in the final nine minutes to help trim the final margin to single digits.
JMU had success inside, especially early on, scoring 23 of its first 26 points in the paint. The Dukes finished with a 40-34 advantage in that category. Towson, on the other hand, did a lot of its damage from beyond the arc. The Tigers were 9-19 from long range and had six players make at least one 3-pointer.
Graduate forward Andrey Semenov played in his 124th career game, moving into third on JMU’s all-time list.
JMU continues the conference portion of its schedule when it travels to Philadelphia to take on Drexel on Saturday. The game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tipoff.