VALPARAISO, Ind., Nov. 23, 2013 – Valparaiso used a 14-0 first-half run to grab momentum as part of an overall 36-6 scoring advantage spanning the halves to push past James Madison 81-49 on Saturday afternoon at the Athletics Recreation Center.
Valpo improved to 3-3 overall while JMU fell to 2-4 after the first meeting between the programs. The Dukes were playing for the third time in four games against a Horizon League opponent, falling to 0-3 against the league.
Sophomore Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) had 14 points to go with four rebounds, two assists and a career-best four steals. Sophomore forward Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy) also tallied 14 points while freshman guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) added 11.
The Crusaders had four players between 12 and 16 points, led by reserve Jordan Coleman’s 16 points, four assists and two steals. Alec Peters and LaVonte Dority each had 15 points with Dority adding five assists and three steals. Lexus Williams contributed 12 points and four steals.
The Dukes, playing without injured starters Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) and Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) got out to a hot start in the game, grabbing a 10-8 lead by the first media timeout thanks to six points from Kent and four from Bessick. Madison further built the advantage to 18-12 when things began to unravel.
Buoyed by Coleman and Dority, the Crusaders embarked on a 14-0 run to turn the tide. Coleman began the run with a three and a jumper, which were followed by consecutive threes by Dority. Coleman added a three-point play to cap the run for a 26-18 Valpo lead.
Freshman Tom Vodanovich (Wellington, New Zealand/St. Patrick’s College) finally halted the push with a pair of free throws for JMU’s first points since his free throws over five minutes earlier. Valpo continued to build its margin to a high of 13 points, 35-22, at the half on a tip-in by Bueye.
The Crusaders kept the momentum going in the second period, using a 13-4 start to push the score to 48-24 with less than five minutes expired, marking a 36-6 scoring barrage. JMU got no closer than 19 points the rest of the game.
After missing 19 free throws in their previous contest, JMU went a season-best 15-for-16 against Valpo (94 percent). The Crusaders were 14-for-16 to make the teams a combined 29-for-32 (91 percent).
Valparaiso shot 58 percent from the floor, including 16-for-25 in the second half, and 45 percent from the arc (9-for-20). JMU was 38 percent from the field and 2-for-14 (14 percent) from three-point territory.
Valpo led in rebounding 32-17, led bench points 27-4 and limited JMU to four assists, its fewest in over two seasons.
Both teams mixed up starting lineups for the first time this season with a total of six freshmen among the 10 players on the court at tip. Kent and Ivan Lukic (Loznica, Serbia/ABCD Academy) made their first career starts along with Cooke, Vodanovich and Bessick.
JMU continues its current eight-game road swing on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. game at Winthrop.