RICHMOND, Va., March 5, 2010 - Junior forward Denzel Bowles (Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville) had game highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds, and senior guard Pierre Curtis (Denver, Colo./East) and sophomore forward Julius Wells (Toledo, Ohio/Libbey) added 19 and 18 points, respectively, as James Madison beat Drexel 77-65 Friday in the first round of the Virginia 529 College Savings Plan Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament at the Richmond Coliseum.
Eleventh-seeded JMU with the victory improved to 13-19 for the season and advanced to an 8:30 p.m. Saturday second-round tournament game against No. 3 seed William & Mary, which had a first-round bye. Sixth-seeded Drexel completed its season with a 16-16 record.
Bowles hit on eight of 15 shots from the field and eight of 10 free throws and also had a game-high six assists in 33 minutes. The scoring-rebounding double-double was his 11th of the season.
Curtis had 15 first-half points as the Dukes overcame on early deficit and overall hit on five of seven shots, including both of his three-point attempts. He contributed four assists in 37 minutes, and Wells added seven rebounds in 37 minutes for the Dukes.
JMU didn't trail after Curtis' layup with 4:10 left in the first half gave the Dukes a 24-23 lead. The JMU lead was 33-27 at halftime and as few as four points during the final period only after Drexel scored the half's initial field goal to get to within 33-29.
Curtis had 12 of JMU's 14 points from the first half's 7:33 mark until 2:47, capping the run with a two free throws for a 29-23 Dukes' lead.
JMU followed Drexel's field goal to start the final half with six-straight points - four by Bowles and two by Wells - to lead 39-29 with 18:31 left. Drexel got to within five points at 45-40 with 12:22 to play and 60-55 with 5:14 left, but junior guard Ben Louis (Melbourne, Australia/St. Francis Xavier) had a layup at 4:50 and a free throw at 4:21 for a 63-55 JMU advantage.
The Dukes' run reached 11-4 as Wells had two free throws at 3:06 and freshman forward Trevon Flores (Harvey, La./Helen Cox) two at 2:53, freshman guard Darren White (Danville, Va./Dan River) a perimeter jumper at 1:45 and Curtis two free throws at 1:45 for a 71-59 JMU edge.
Drexel led 11-4 after seven minutes, but Bowles had five points and Curtis a three-point field goal as the Dukes took a 12-11 lead with 11:24 left in the first half.
JMU shot 49 percent (23-47) from the field and hit on 28 of 39 free throws (72 percent). Drexel shot only 34 percent (21-61) from the field and hit on 20 of 34 free throws (59 percent). The Dragons hit on 21 of 24 free throws last Saturday (Feb. 27) while winning 67-64 at JMU in the teams' previous games.
Drexel had four double-figure scorers and was led by CAA rookie of the year Chris Fouch with 20 points off the bench.
- Curtis scored in double figures for the fourth-straight game and has averaged 17.5 points during that period. He had reached double figures in scoring in only one of his 11 games before the recent streak.
- Bowles matched his career high of six assists.
- Wells moved onto JMU's top-10 season scoring list; he is 10th on the list with 525 points this season, and he has 943 during his two JMU seasons.
- Flores had a career-high five blocks and became JMU all-time leader among freshmen in blocks with 36. He broke Steve Stielper's (1976-80) JMU freshman season blocked shots record of 34, set in 1976-77, JMU's first Division I season.
- Wells set JMU's season record for minutes played. He surpassed Steve Hood's (1989-91) season mark of 1,148, set in 1989-90, and has played 1,172 minutes this season.