James Madison will face a familiar foe on Saturday night when it gears up for its second straight game against William and Mary. This time, the Dukes will play the Tribe for the right to advance from the quarterfinal round to the semifinals of the Colonial Athletic Association Championship at the Richmond Coliseum.
The Dukes and Tribe will tip at 8:30 p.m. with television coverage on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus (CSN-MA+), Comcast SportsNet Houston and The Comcast Network Philadelphia. The winner advances to Sunday's 4:30 p.m. semifinal airing on NBC Sports Network.
***Note for fans, the Duke Club will host a pregame hospitality event sponsored by Virginia Business Systems across the street at the Richmond Convention Center for each day that JMU participates in the tournament. Tournament tickets can be purchased through the JMU ticket office. The first 100 JMU students receive free tickets through the 5th Street entrance to the Coliseum. After that, student tickets are $5.50 at the gate.***
JMU (17-14, 11-7 CAA) finished the regular season in fourth place in conference play and achieved the No. 3 seed, both the best program marks since the 1999-2000 season. The Dukes will play the No. 6 Tribe (13-16, 7-11) for the third time this season while also marking the fourth time in five years that head coach Matt Brady will face the College in the CAA tournament. He is 1-2 in those games.
The Dukes shot their way past William and Mary in their first contest this season on February 6. Sophomore guard Marcus Thornton paced the Tribe with 22 points and shot over 60 percent from behind the arc, but it was JMU redshirt senior guard A.J. Davis who finished with a game-high 27 points and five rebounds.
At the time, his 27 points was a season-high, but Davis outperformed himself in Saturday's regular season finale in Williamsburg. He scored a career-high 36 points to will the Dukes to a two-point comeback win and a season sweep of the Tribe. Davis' 36 was the second highest single-game outburst of any CAA player this season, behind only R.J. Hunter's 38 against Old Dominion on February 2. Davis' 15 made field goals on Saturday also marks a single-game high for the CAA this season.
Redshirt senior guard Devon Moore failed to score double-digit points for the first time in eight games in Saturday's regular season finale, but he stuffed the stat sheet with three rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals. Moore has dished 31 assists to just seven turnovers over his last five games. He finished the season first in the CAA in assists per game (4.8) and second in turnover ratio (+2.04).
Freshman guard Andre Nation has seen his scoring average dip to just over six points per game in the month of February. However, he still ranks third among CAA freshmen with 1.6 steals per game and ranks seventh overall in the conference, beating out his teammate, Moore (1.4/game), by two spots. Moore and Nation both contribute to JMU's 7.9 steals per game and +2.61 turnover margin, both of which lead the CAA.
William and Mary's 7-11 conference record marks its best finish since the 2009-10 season when the Tribe finished 12-6 and played in the National Invitation Tournament. The Tribe are 3-2 in their last five games and 5-4 since February 1.
Junior forward Tim Rusthoven has narrowly missed out on double-doubles both times William and Mary has played JMU. He scored 11 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Harrisonburg on February 6 and netted 20 points with eight boards on Saturday. Rusthoven is averaging 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season, ranking among the top 11 CAA performers in both categories. He leads the league with a .558 field goal percentage.
Thornton, who averages 18.6 points per game and has reached double figures in every game this season, is averaging 21 points against JMU this year. He finished with 10 points, two rebounds and two assists in his only career CAA tournament game, a 57-49 loss to Northeastern last season.