HARRISONBURG, Va., Jan. 15, 2014 – Led by 14 points and 11 rebounds from forward Scott Eatherton, Northeastern grabbed an early 10-0 lead and held off James Madison’s second-half rally to within a point to record a 56-52 win in a Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball game Wednesday night at the JMU Convocation Center.
JMU dropped its third straight in league play to fall to 1-3 in the CAA and 6-12 overall. NU evened its league mark at 2-2 and improved to 5-13 overall.
Sophomore guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) led all players with 16 points for JMU along with five rebounds. Fellow sophomore guard Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) was right behind with 14 points.
Eatherton added to his national lead in double-doubles with his 14th by posting 14 points, 11 rebounds and two assists before fouling out in the final three minutes of play. Guards Demetrius Pollard and David Walker each contributed 12 points.
Northeastern hit its first five field goals to grab a quick 10-0 lead, built the advantage to as large as 15 and led 33-23 at the break. A three-point field goal by sophomore guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) cut the margin to 36-30 just four minutes into the period. The deficit remained between five and eight points for the next seven minutes.
Cooke’s three-point play with six minutes to go cut the score to 44-41 to pull within a single possession for the first time since the opening minute of play. A three by Pollard pushed the score to 48-43 but JMU maintained pressure with free throws from sophomore forward Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy) and freshman forward Tom Vodanovich (Wellington, New Zeland/St. Patricks College) and a layup by Nation made it a one-point game at 48-47 with two minutes on the clock.
JMU’s defense pushed Northeastern to the limit on its next possession, but T.J. Williams was able to collect a loose ball under the basket and find David Walker for a deep baseline jumper for a key Huskies’ basket.
Cooke penetrated to the left block but missed his jumper, which led to a run-out layup for Northeastern and a 52-47 lead with 56 seconds remaining. NU left the door open with four missed free throws in the final 50 seconds, but Cooke missed a deep three with a chance to make it a one-point game at the 30-second mark. Two Walker free throws made it 54-48 and the Huskies closed out the 56-52 victory.
Northeastern led JMU in field goal percentage .455 to .373 while both teams struggled from the arc and the charity stripe. The Huskies were 4-for-15 from long range (27 percent) and 12-for-23 at the line (52 percent). The Dukes were 2-for-16 at the arc (13 percent) and 12-for-22 at the line (55 percent). NU also had 13 assists while JMU recorded five.
Northeastern jumped out to a 10-0 lead, all on layups, as the Huskies hit each of their first five field goals. Curry’s transition layup finally ended the run, but NU maintained the advantage, never letting the Dukes closer than six at 13-7.
The Huskies built the lead to as large as 15 at 33-18 with two and a half minutes remaining in the half. Madison cut the margin to 10 at the break as Cooke connected on a layup and hit a three at the break to make it 33-23.
NU shot 56.5 percent in the half while holding JMU to 32 percent. The Dukes missed their first nine threes of the game before Cooke’s shot at the half from the top of the key. Eatherton had 11 points in the half for NU while Nation led JMU with 10.
Madison hits the road Saturday for a 4 p.m. CAA game at William and Mary with television coverage on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, Philadelphia and New England along with Comcast Charter Sports Southeast (CSS).
NOTES: The game was a rematch of March’s CAA title game, which third-seeded JMU won over top-seeded Northeastern 70-57… the Dukes won the opening tip for the first time in 13 games and just the third time this season in 18 games… Nation picked up his third and fourth fouls in the first two and a half minutes of the second half and was forced to miss the next 10 minutes until seven and a half remained… for the first game of the spring academic semester, JMU’s attendance of 3,610 included 1,252 students… Madison fell to 72-for-118 (61 percent) at home at the free throw line compared to 74 percent in 10 road games.