James Madison's men's basketball will face Delaware in Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center. The match will be the fourth straight televised league game and will air on The Comcast Network Mid-Atlantic (TCN-MA) and Philadelphia (TCN-P), as well as on Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS)
JMU suffered an 80-71 setback Thursday evening against a hot Old Dominion team that has won its last four games in the CAA to pull into a first-place tie in the league. The loss extended the Dukes' losing streak to three, dropping their record to 10-14 overall and 3-9 in the CAA. Redshirt junior guard A.J. Davis led JMU with 23 points and five rebounds, while redshirt junior forward Andrey Semenov registered 22 points and seven rebounds. Semenov converted a career-high six three-pointers on the night.
ODU jumped out to a early 15-6 lead in the first half before JMU was able to create a run of its own, cutting the lead to 26-23 while holding ODU scoreless for over six minutes. ODU used a 19-9 offensive run to break open a 39-30 halftime lead and extended their lead to 19 with 12:51 remaining in regulation. JMU was able to rally and get within four in the final minute, but the Monarchs converted five of their seven free throws in the closing minutes to secure the win. The Monarchs out-rebounded the Dukes 47-29 and shot 43 percent from the field while hitting 13-of-25 three-point attempts.
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Delaware's defense proved to be the winning factor in the game against Mason on Wednesday, as it limited the conference's leading team in points per game (71.3) and field goal percentage (.466) to just 60 points total and a 34-percent shooting average. The Blue Hens built a commanding 32-15 lead in the first half before Mason used a nine-point rally to make it 32-24 at half. Delaware responded to Mason's rally, using a 7-1 run to build its lead back to 39-25 with 17 minutes left. The Patriots would get as close as to 46-44 with 9:20 left in regulation before Delaware used another offensive run to pull away for good. The Blue Hens shot 45 percent from the field and 50 percent from the arc.
Saddler and junior forward Jamelle Hagins have led the Blue Hens offensively all season. Saddler is the team's leading scorer, averaging 19 points per game and shooting 38 percent from the field. Hagins has also made an impact on Delaware's offensive unit, averaging 13 points per game and boasting an impressive 51 percent shooting percentage from the field. Both combined for 26 points and 16 rebounds in Delaware's win against Mason.
For the Dukes, Davis and Hitchens continue to pace the offense. Both continue to average 16 points per game, while Davis is shooting 45 percent from the field and Hitchens averages 42 percent. Semenov should also pose an offensive threat against the Blue Hens, as he drained a career-high six 3-pointers on Thursday for a season-high 22 points. He is averaging 14.8 points and 8.5 rebounds over the last four games as part of a late-season emergence.
Delaware leads the all-time series against the Dukes, 11-5. JMU has won the last two meetings between the programs, both decided by single digits. The last meeting was January 29, 2011, in which JMU posted a 77-71 victory
The last game between these conference foes ended in dramatic style, with JMU coming back from a 50-31 with only 13 minutes remaining in regulation. The Dukes used a 30-11 run by implementing a full-pressure defense, defeating the Blue Hens 77-71. Previous senior forward Denzel Bowles led the Dukes with 26 points, while current senior forward Julius Wells added 19 points to propel the Dukes to the victory.
Following Saturday's match against Delaware, JMU will continue CAA action when the Dukes host Drexel on Wednesday at 7 p.m.