HARRISONBURG, Va., Nov. 22, 2011 - Velton Jones posted a career-high 38 points as Robert Morris pulled away in the final four minutes to record an 82-77 win over James Madison on Tuesday evening at the JMU Convocation Center as part of the 2011 Philly Hoop Group Classic.
RMU bounced back from its first loss of the season to improve to 3-1 while JMU made it two losses in a row to fall to 1-2.
Jones topped his previous career high of 29 points and matched the fifth-best scoring total in RMU history. He also posted the fifth-best scoring output by an opposing player in JMU history, falling seven points shy of David Robinson's record of 45. Jones had 10 points in the final four minutes of the game with his three with four minutes to go giving the Colonials the lead for good at 69-67. Jones finished the night hitting 10 of his 15 field goal attempts, including 3-of-4 from the arc, while also going 15-for-19 at the free throw line.
JMU trailed 45-37 at the half and fell behind 53-42 with 16:29 remaining before making its move. Consecutive threes by senior forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) and senior guard Humpty Hitchens (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) quickly cut the margin to five.
Junior guard A.J. Davis (Columbus, Ohio/Harmony Community) then personally scored 14 of JMU's next 15 points with four three-pointers over a seven-minute stretch as the Dukes rallied for a 63-62 lead. Another three by junior forward Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) extended the lead to 66-62.
Two free throws and a layup by Jones quickly tied the score at 66. After a JMU free throw, Jones hit his three to put RMU back in front to stay. The Colonials clung to a 73-71 advantage with one minute remaining when guard Coron Williams hit the key shot of the game, a long jumper to put the Colonials up two possessions.
JMU got a pair of Hitchens threes in the final minute to keep it close but RMU sealed the win at the free throw line to record the 82-77 decision.
Davis shot 5-for-8 from the arc and finished with 22 points to lead the Dukes while becoming the first player in program history to surpass 20 points in each of his first three games in a JMU uniform. His five treys were a career high after draining a total of five threes in his entire two seasons at Wyoming.
Hitchens posted the first double-double of his college career with 21 points and a career-high 10 assists. All five of his field goals came from the arc on seven attempts while also going 6-for-10 at the charity stripe.
Wells added 15 points on four three-pointers with six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Semenov chipped in eight points, six boards, two blocks and two steals.
JMU tied team and Convocation Center records with 16 made three-point field goals in the contest while also tying the team record with 34 attempted shots from the arc for 47 percent accuracy from downtown. However, the Dukes made just six of their 19 field goal attempts inside the arc and shot 61 percent (17-for-28) at the foul line.
Robert Morris negated JMU's advantage from outside thanks to Jones' individual effort, a 29-for-35 team performance at the foul line (83 percent) and a distinct advantage in the paint, where the Colonials outscored the Dukes 26-8 and led in rebounds 37-27.
Jones was the only RMU player in double figures with his 38 points. Williams and Anthony Myers had eight apiece. Russell Johnson had six points and a game-high nine rebounds to go with three assists and two blocked shots.
JMU came out firing from long range from the opening tip with nine attempts from the arc within the first five minutes as the Dukes grabbed a 15-10 lead. Madison built the lead to as large as 22-15 before RMU responded with a 12-1 run to move in front 27-23 at the 8:22 mark.
The Colonials held the lead the remainder of the half, running the margin to as high as 11 at 41-30 with 3:03 remaining. The Dukes managed to cut it as close as six in the first half at 43-37 before Robert Morris hit a bucket late to take a 45-37 lead into the half.
Jones had 20 points in the half for the Colonials, who shot 50 percent from the floor. No other player had more than six of RMU's 45 first-half points, though nine different players scored at least two. Wells had 11 in the half for the Dukes while Hitchens had eight.
Both teams travel next to The Palestra in Philadelphia where JMU will face Rider at 2 p.m. Friday and Robert Morris battles La Salle at 4:30. JMU also faces Penn on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Both JMU contests will be televised on The Comcast Network in Philadelphia. They will also be carried Comcast Sportsnet Plus (CSN+), which will include coverage on The Comcast Network Mid-Atlantic.
NOTES: With two points in the first half and 20 points in the second half, Davis has now scored 15 points for the season in the first half and 51 in the second half through three games... Davis is the first JMU player to begin a season with three 20-point games since Darren McLinton (1995-96) had 30 against Illinois State, 27 against Auburn and 21 against VCU in his senior season... entering the night, Davis ranked second in the CAA at 22.0 points per game and Hitchens was third at 21.0 points per game with both staying true to their averages... Delaware's Devon Saddler had 21 points Tuesday in a win over Cornell, which puts Davis and Saddler tied for the league lead early in the season... Hitchens and Davis each surpassed 20 points in a game for the second time in three contests this season... Wells moved into second place in program history at JMU with 238 made three-point field goals, passing Darren McLinton (1992-96) with 237... Robert Morris and James Madison met for the first time since a pair of matchups in the 1978-79 season... Steve Stielper set JMU's single-game points record (51) against RMU in January of 1979 while this time Jones came within four points of matching the single-game record of 42 for the Colonials.