March 10, 2013

Photo Courtesy of the CAA/Scott Brown
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Athlete photoRICHMOND, Va. -- James Madison guard Devon Moore hit two free throws with 3.7 seconds remaining as the third-seeded Dukes pulled out a controversial 58-57 victory over second-seeded University of Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinals Sunday afternoon at the Richmond Coliseum.

The Blue Hens led by a point in the final minute and appeared to have the upper hand when Carl Baptiste blocked a shot by the Dukes’ Andre Nation and Delaware grabbed the defensive rebound.

Following a Dukes foul and a timeout with 13.3 seconds left, Jarvis Threatt received an inbounds pass but was ruled to have dribbled the ball on the sidelines down the left side of the floor.

Moore then drove the lane and was fouled by Jamelle Hagins (at right) and followed with two free throws to put James Madison in front by a point. Delaware had one last chance, but Devon Saddler’s off-balance three-pointer outside the top of the key was off the mark, giving the Dukes the victory.

James Madison, which improved to 19-14 on the season, advances to Monday’s championship game against top-seeded Northeastern.

The Blue Hens, who were looking to advance to their first ever CAA final, had a five-game winning streak snapped while falling ot 19-14 on the year.

Hagins, who broke the school record by appearing in his 124th career game, led Delaware with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks as he recorded his 16th double-double of the season.

Kyle Anderson added 11 points for the Blue Hens, while Carl Baptiste chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds. Saddler, the CAA’s leading scorer, was limited to just seven points, as his 38-game double figure scoring streak came to an end.

A.J. Davis led James Madison with 16 points, as the Dukes defeated Delaware for the third time this season. Moore added 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists for James Madison, while Nation was the third Dukes player in double figures with 12 points to go with a game-high five blocks.

“I am really proud of my guys, we hung in there and fought all night,”  said seventh-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross, whose team hopes to receive an invitation to a post-season tournament that will go out after Sunday's annoncement of the NCAA Tournament field. “I’m so appreciative of what my team gave me tonight. We wanted to get a good look for Devon at the end, but the ball just didn’t go in. Playing in the postseason would be an honor. I will get my team whole in the next few days and we’ll go from there.”

James Madison led 29-25 at the break and the Dukes then opened the second with six straight points, culminated on an alley oop dunk by Davis, to go in front by double digits at 35-25 with 17:21 to play.

Saddler scored his first field goal of the day and the Blue Hens’ first of the second half with 16:16 left, while a layup by Baptiste and a dunk by Hagins made it a four-point game at the 14:54 mark.

James Madison went back up seven on a Ron Curry three-pointer, but Threatt followed his own miss before Hagins scored off the glass to bring Delaware within 40-37 with 12 minutes to play.

The Dukes lead alternated between three and five points over the next four minutes, until Threatt scored off a rebound and then drained a three-pointer to put UD up 47-46 with 8:18 to play. JMU called a time out but could not stop the Blue Hens’ momentum, as Threatt and Hagins each converted layups to give Delaware a five-point advantage.

However the Dukes would pull even after two free throws by Nation and a three-point play by Davis, knotting the contest at 51-51 with 5:07 remaining.

Delaware answered right back as Baptiste converted a layup, Saddler scored in transition and Baptiste scored inside to put the Blue Hens up six at the 2:56 mark. But Nation answered with a triple for the Dukes, and after Davis hit two free throws, JMU got the ball back in the final minute following a miss by Threatt.

Baptiste then blocked Nation’s shot, before the Threatt turnover and Moore’s game-winning free throws.

Delaware shot just 35.7 percent from the field, connecting on 20 of 56 field goal attempts and 3 of 17 three-point shots, but finished 14 of 17 from the foul line and held a commanding 45-27 rebounding advantage.

However the Blue Hens limited the Dukes to only 37.7 percent from the floor, including a 4 of 14 performance from behind the arc.

For the second straight day both the Blue Hens and their opponent struggled early from the field, before a Davis three-pointer put the Dukes up 9-6 at the 14:39 mark of the opening half. Delaware answered back with six consecutive points to go in front, and the game remained tight throughout the rest of the half.

A three-pointer by Curry gave James Madison a 22-18 cushion before Josh Brinkley hit a turnaround jumper and Anderson buried a three-pointer from the top of the key as the Blue Hens went back in front by a point with 2:46 on the clock.

However Moore answered with a pair of baskets for the Dukes, and after a Hagins bucket, Curry hit two free throws in the final seconds as James Madison took a 29-25 lead into the half.

Delaware went just 7 of 26 from the field in the opening 20 minutes but James Madison was not much better, connecting on just 10 of 27 field goal attempts.