James Madison begins play in the 2011 Virginia 529 College Savings Plan Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Championship on Friday evening. The sixth-seeded Dukes face 11th-seeded William and Mary in the fourth and final game of the opening day at 8:30 p.m. at the Richmond Coliseum.
JMU enters its 26th CAA Championship at 21-10 overall and 10-8 in the CAA. With the sixth seed, the Dukes hold their highest spot in the tournament since being sixth in the 2000-01 event. That year, JMU was actually seventh in the league standings but three schools (Richmond, East Carolina and American) did not participate in the tournament. Prior to that, the best finish was a tie for first and the second seed in the 1999-2000 tournament. Each of those two tournaments were the last time JMU reached the semifinals.
William and Mary enters the tournament at 9-21 overall and 4-14 in the CAA. The Tribe will face head coach Matt Brady's Dukes in the tournament for the third straight year. In Brady's first year, the Dukes dispatched the Tribe 70-48 in the opening round. Last year, it was the 11th-seeded Dukes defeating sixth-seeded Drexel and holding a double-digit lead in the second half against W&M before the Tribe prevailed 70-65.
JMU leads the all-time series 44-35 and has won five of the last eight. The two teams split the season series with each school winning on the opponent's home court. However, the Tribe just over 77 of the 80 total minutes in the two games combined. In the most recent meeting on February 2nd, William and Mary never trailed in the contest as the Tribe was able to claim a 73-67 victory in the Convocation Center. W&M shot a blistering 57% from the floor, hitting better than 50% in each half and nailing 9-of-18 (50%) of its three-pointers. The Tribe also held a 36-28 lead on the boards in the contest and was able to hold off JMU's second-half charge.
Junior forward Quinn McDowell led all scorers with 23 points and freshman guard Julian Boatner went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, all three-pointers, to finish with 15 points. Junior forward Julius Wells led the Dukes with 19 points and junior guard Humpty Hitchens added 16 points. Senior forward Denzel Bowles posted his 12th double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 boards with all of his points coming in the second half.
On January 8th, JMU trailed most of the game before rallying with a 14-2 run with 3:29 remaining in the game to claim an 84-79 road victory in Kaplan Arena. Hitchens led the Dukes with 17 points and Bowles recorded a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Senior forward Marcus Kitts led six players in double figures for the Tribe with 16 points, five rebounds, and five blocks.
JMU finished the season third in the CAA in points scored per game averaging 71.7 overall, (71.8 in CAA games) and second in field goal percentage shooting 46.0% (46.2% CAA). The Dukes also rank second in three-point percentage shooting 38.1% (38.1% CAA).
William and Mary finished fourth in the CAA in field goal percentage shooting 44.2% and fifth in three-point field goal percentage shooting 35.9%. The Tribe also ranks fifth in defensive rebounds grabbing an average of 24.3 per game.
JMU returns to Richmond less than a week after finishing the regular season by defeating VCU 72-69 on Saturday afternoon at the Siegel Center. Sophomore guard Devon Moore led four James Madison players in double figures and scored 11 of JMU's final 17 points to claim the win.
Moore finished with 18 points, four rebounds, and five assists, breaking the JMU record for assists by a sophomore with 130. Bowles narrowly missed a double-double with 14 points and nine boards, matching the JMU single-season rebounding record with 279 (Steve Stielper 1976-77). Hitchens added 12 points hitting 4-of-5 from behind the arc and junior Julius Wells tallied 11 points in his 100th career game.
The Dukes are led by Bowles, who is averaging 18.2 points, which ranks second the CAA. He also rips down 9.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 58.1% from the field, which ranks second in the CAA and 21st in NCAA Division I. Moore leads the team in assists with 4.2 per game and contributes 10.9 points per game. Wells is not far behind averaging 10.8 points per game and recording 4.2 rebounds per game. Junior forward Rayshawn Goins contributes 9.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Redshirt sophomore Andrey Semenov and guard Humpty Hitchens are players to watch against the guard-oriented Tribe as the pair shoots 42.0% and 40.6% from behind the arc, respectively.
William and Mary suffered a 77-58 loss to Old Dominion its last game of the season Saturday. Boatner led the Tribe with 18 points hitting on 6-of-13 from behind the arc. Freshman guard Brandon Britt and McDowell added 15 and 14 points, respectively. ODU outrebounded the Tribe 47-15 and was able to score 38 points in the paint compared to William and Mary's six.
The Tribe is led by McDowell, who is averaging 15.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. He is also shooting a team-high 43.8% from behind the arc. Britt is the team's second-leading scorer contributing 11.0 points per game. Senior forward Marcus Kitts leads the team in rebounding with 5.7 per game and is shooting 57.0% from the floor. Kitts also averages 1.9 blocks per game. Boatner is a player to watch, shooting 40.4% from behind the arc.
The winner of Friday night's contest will advance to Saturday's 8:30 p.m. quarterfinal matchup against the No. 3 seed Hofstra. The Dukes and Pride have not met previously in the CAA Tournament. The Pride lead the all-time series 12-4 having won each of the last 12 meetings. That includes a 92-90 overtime win on Long Island on January 24.
Charles Jenkins, the favorite for CAA Player of the Year and a potential NBA prospect, had 35 points, including 25 in the second half and overtime. JMU led by 15 in the early minutes of the second half and by 11 with seven minutes remaining. A pair of free throws by Shemiye McLendon with 17 seconds left tied the score and Hofstra took charge in overtime for the win.