HARRISONBURG, VA - Stepping out of conference play for an ESPN BracketBusters game against James Madison, the Miami RedHawks dropped a 70-69 decision Saturday at the JMU Convocation Center. Ironically, a familiar face around the MAC played a part in the Dukes victory.
JAMES MADISON 70, MIAMI 69
Anthony Humpty Hitchens, who spent the last two years at Akron before getting an NCAA hardship waiver to join JMU, scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half to lead the Dukes after intermission.
DUKES END UP IN DRIVERS SEAT
Miami forward Julian Mavunga, who scored 24 points to lead all scorers, tied the contest at 69-all with a bucket at the :30 mark. That, however, left the Dukes with a final shot opportunity. Sophomore guard Devon Moore drew a shooting foul with 2.9 seconds remaining and made the second of two tosses. Mavungas desperation shot from 35 feet at the buzzer was off the mark.
I think they won the game with their guard play, Miami head coach Charlie Coles said. We need to find a way to stop dribble-penetration. If were going to close out our season in a real big way, were going to have to really get better defensively.
The setback ended MUs five-game win streak, dropping the Redhawks to 14-13 overall. James Madison raised its record to 20-9. It is the first time JMU has reached 20 wins since the 1981-82 season.
All five starters hit double figures for the hosting Dukes. Julius Wells led the group with 16 markers, followed by Hitchens (15), Devon Moore (12), Andrey Semenov (11) and Denzel Bowles (10).
Miami had three players in double figures. Joining Mavunga (24), who hit 8-of-13 from the field (4-of-6 treys), were Allen Roberts (12) and Nick Winbush (11 points, 10 rebounds).
TURNOVERS AND FREE THROWS
Both teams pulled down 27 rebounds and hit 25 field goals. JMU registered 48.1 percent from the field, while the RedHawks connected on 47.2 percent. Miami, however, had 10 turnovers to the Dukes' 6. James Madison (12-of-16, 75 percent) also had four more free throw points than the Red and White (8-of-12, 66.7 percent). They were enough to tip the balance in a close game.
Miami edged out to an 11-point lead following a jumper by Winbush with 8:30 remaining in the first half. It was a 10 point advantage after Josh Sewells layup at 6:42.
James Madison, however, used a flurry of MU turnovers to regain momentum. Beginning at the 5:25 mark, the RedHawks committed six turnovers before intermission. JMU knocked the Miami lead down to a two-point differential by the 4:03 mark and went into halftime trailing 30-29.
We self-destructed on our own, said Coles, who labeled the miscues unforced turnovers.
Both teams held small leads and there were six ties before the Dukes made a decisive run late in the game. Hitchens scored the first seven JMU points to start an 11-4 run that gave hosts a 69-64 advantage with 1:51 left.
Chris McHenry nailed a three (1:26) and Mavunga tied the game with his layup (:30) prior to Moores game-winning free throw.
The Dukes shot 60 percent from the field in the second half after a 37 percent performance before intermission.
Weve got to become a little more defensive minded, Coles said. I think our guys are judging how well they play (by the fact that) most of our guys have had some good offensive games. We dont need to worry about that. We need to worry about getting tough right now at this part of the year.
Miami, currently holding down first place in a tight MAC East race, will try to extend its five-game MAC win streak Wednesday, Feb. 23 (7 p.m.) when it travels to Akron.
Overall, there were 14 lead changes and 11 ties in the game.
(JMU) Moores winning free throw came after two misses in his previous two attempts. The redshirt sophomore hails from Columbus, OH.
Josh Sewell totaled six points in his first career start for MU
Nick Winbush (MU) posted his second straight double-double.
Julian Mavunga now has six games this season. with 20 or more points.
Miami registered a season-high 13 assists.
Mavunga had just two rebounds against James Madison. It was the second time this year he has recorded two rebounds. The other occasion was against Green Bay Nov. 21. His season low is one rebound versus Kansas Jan. 2, and he was limited to three caroms Nov. 16 in a matchup with Duke.
It was the first meeting between Miami and James Madison. The Dukes are 5-5 all-time in matchups with MAC schools.