James Madison 74, EMU 68
Well, the result was about what I expected, but the game was a lot closer and more exciting than I would have predicted. I counted five lead changes and eight ties, and although James Madison took the lead for good with 15:45 remaining in the game, it never got out of hand, and was still just a one-possession game in the final thirty seconds. After last Saturday’s game at Canisius, of which calling it a lackluster performance would have been generous, it was nice to see a better effort from the Eagles, even though in the end, the final result was still a loss.
Of particular note, the Eagles shot much better than they have the past few games, averaging 45.4% on two-point shots (exactly the same as the Dukes, since both teams made 20 of 44 from inside the arc), 35.0% on three-point shots, and making an improved but still unimpressive 63.6% of their free throw attempts. Since the shooting from inside the arc was exactly the same, the game came down to EMU’s three-point shooting against James Madison’s free throws. The Eagles made 7 of 20 attempts from behind the arc while holding James Madison to one of twelve (just 8.3%!) but the Dukes drew foul after foul, making 31 of 39 free throws while EMU made seven of eleven. And while you might expect EMU to shoot a lot of three-point shots and commit a lot of fouls in trying to come from behind at the end of the game, the Dukes only made six free throws in the final four minutes. James Madison won this game at the line, or more accurately, the Dukes won the game by drawing all those fouls.
Notable EMU performers included Brandon Bowdry, whose 22 points and 13 rebounds gave him his second double-double of the season (and who was more efficient than he’s been, shooting above 50% for the first time this season), Darrell Lampley, who chipped in 15 points, 6 assists, 3 steals, and nary a turnover, Matt Balkema whose 10 points and 7 rebounds were far above his averages, and Derek Thompson, who added 14 points and 6 rebounds in his second game as an Eagle.
The Dukes were led by Rayshawn Goins (25 points, 12 rebounds), Denzel Bowles (21 points, 11 rebounds), and Devon Moore (12 points).
Next up, the Eagles will play in the Basketball Travelers Invitational in Moscow, Idaho, where they will face the Monmoth Hawks on Friday, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux on Saturday, and the Idaho Vandals on Sunday. Since they’re on three consecutive days, I’m going to shoot for posting all three game previews during the week.