HARRISONBURG, Va. – James Madison broke open a close game with a 14-3 run over the final four minutes of the first half to take a 14-point lead at the break and the Dukes went on the defeat Bridgewater College, 80-50, Friday evening at the Convocation Center.
The Eagles battled the Division I Dukes on even terms until the final media timeout of the first half. With 3:59 remaining in the half, Bridgewater trailed by just three points, 26-23, but the Dukes then controlled play during the remainder of the half to lead 40-26 at the break.
The Eagles led twice early in the game. The first time on a 3-pointer by Dimetri Chambers to make it 3-2 and the second when Chambers scored in traffic to put the Eagles up 8-7.
The score was tied at 10-10 and 12-12 before six straight points put the Dukes on top by six, 18-12. The Eagles then answered with a 6-0 run of their own to pull even. Sami El-Rafey scored on a short jumper and Chambers hit two foul shots to pull the Eagles to within two. Davrion Grier then scored a layup in transition to make it 18-18 with 7:58 left in the half.
Bridgewater took its final lead, 22-21, when Drew Bethoney drained a long 3-pointer with 6:18 remaining. JMU regained the lead on a 3-ball by Stuckey Mosley before Zach Breathwaite made 1-of-2 foul shots to cut the Duke's lead to one 24-23. Darius Banks then threw down a dunk to put the Dukes ahead 26-23 heading to the final media timeout.
"JMU has a good team. They have a lot of size and a lot of length," Bridgewater head coach Shawn Postiglione said. "Their pressure and athleticism took over a little bit there at the end of the first half when they opened up the lead."
The Dukes used their size advantage in the opening half to control the boards by a 27-15 margin with 12 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end. For the game,, JMU outrebounded the Eagles 53-30.
Chambers had a big night in his first collegiate appearance, leading the Eagles with 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Breathwaite added seven points and four rebounds in his first game with the Eagles.
The Eagles started two transfers and two freshmen along with sophomore holdover Grier.
"Or youth and inexperience showed at times, but I was pleased with the way our young guys came out and played. The guys were aggressive and they played with confidence. There were a lot of positives tonight," Postiglione added.
The Eagles have a short turnaround with another exhibition game against another Division I opponent on the schedule for Sunday afternoon when Bridgewater travels to Boone, N.C., to face Appalachian State. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m.