HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 14, 2013 – Sophomore guard Charles Cooke’s (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic) career high of 25 points helped James Madison charge past High Point with a 56-29 advantage in the final 22 minutes for an 84-69 victory on Saturday evening at the Millis Center.
JMU snapped a six-game losing skid to improve to 3-8 overall while HPU dropped to 3-5 with its third straight loss.
JMU trailed 40-28 with just over two minutes remaining in the first half when the Dukes closed on a 7-0 spurt. Madison carried that momentum into the second half for an overall 15-2 run, taking its first lead on a Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy) three-point play to make it 43-42.
High Point reclaimed the lead just one time on the next basket before an Andrey Semenov (St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School) put JMU in front to stay.
The Dukes gradually stretched the lead possession by possession, reaching double figures at 64-54 with eight minutes to go. High Point had one final push to cut it to six at 64-58 but threes by Cooke and freshman guard Jackson Kent (High Point, N.C./High Point Christian) quickly extended the lead to 74-62, and the Dukes maintained a double-figure advantage the rest of the way.
Cooke continued his season-long progression with his 10th straight game in double figures. His last four games have featured 19, 22, 20 and 25 points. He shot 8-for-15, including 3-for-6 from the arc, against the Panthers while adding five rebounds, two steals, a block and two assists.
JMU had five players in double figures to achieve its season high of 84 points. Semenov had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists to leave him three points shy of 1,000. Bessick contributed 11 points, two blocks and five boards while sophomore guard Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) tallied 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. Playing in his hometown, Kent posted 10 points, five rebounds and a career-high five assists.
In addition to the 84 points, JMU set season highs for field goal percentage (55.1), three-point percentage (47.6) and assists (13). The Dukes were 42-for-182 (23.1 percent) from the arc all season before going 10-for-21 against the Panthers. Madison had not connected on more than six threes in a game before knocking down 10 in the game. JMU also led on the glass 36-29.
Season leading scorer John Brown had 17 points and four steals for the Panthers but was limited to 29 minutes by foul trouble, including his fourth foul on a technical with 12 minutes to go and JMU ahead by just four.
Lorenzo Cugini added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. Derrell Edwards and Devante Wallace each tallied 10 points with Wallace adding six boards.
After shooting 50 percent in the first half, the Panthers were limited to 31 percent in the second half, including a 1-for-11 (9 percent) showing from the arc after 6-for-10 in the first period.
JMU fell behind early from the opening tip at 9-4. Back-to-back threes from the Panthers made it 15-8 and ignited an 11-0 run to make it 20-8 with 12 minutes remaining. However, trailing 22-13, the Dukes embarked upon a 9-0 run with a pair of threes from Curry sandwiched around a basket from Bessick. A free throw from Lukic knotted the score for the first time since the tip.
However, High Point turned the tide quickly, hitting a trio of three-pointers as part of a 16-4 push to move ahead 40-28 in the closing minutes of the period. Baskets by Semenov and Bessick were followed by a three at the buzzer by Cooke to make it a five-point difference at the break at 40-35.
Cooke led all scorers with 12 points in the half while Curry added eight. Cugini added 10 for High Point. The 40 points for HPU were the most in the first half for any JMU opponent this season. The 52 percent shooting was the best of the first half this season for JMU.
JMU returns to the area just 15 miles away on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game at UNCG.