Last-place James Madison relentlessly pounded the offensive backboards and rallied from a nine-point deficit midway through the second half to upset Towson, 76-68, in a Colonial Athletic Association game last night at Towson Center.
A combination of 21 offensive rebounds - 15 after halftime - 20 assists on 29 baskets and some strong defense against a gimpy Gary Neal carried the Dukes to their second straight victory after a 12-game losing streak.
Neal, who is bothered by a foot bruise, did not manage a second-half field goal, mustering just four free throws after the break, against the guarding of senior guard Daniel Freeman, one of five Dukes who scored in double figures.
The most telltale figure was in the rebounding numbers after Towson (10-13, 6-8 CAA) played a zone for nearly the entire game.
"No matter what defense you're in, you should never get out-rebounded like that [44-27 overall]," Tigers coach Pat Kennedy said. "It was horrible. It's been that way the whole year. Our lack of athleticism hurts us in getting to the ball. That has haunted us."
James Madison (5-17, 2-12) had 16 second-chance points in its first road win of the season, and the Dukes scored the last 12 points of the game to finish off the Tigers.
The comeback started with Towson ahead 58-49 after a baseline jumper by senior forward Lawrence Hamm (18 points, game-high 12 rebounds). For a while, it appeared the Dukes might not get over the top as they struggled with their shooting.
The Tigers still led 68-64 when Freeman hit a three-pointer. After misses by Neal and junior Dennard Abraham, Dukes freshman Kyle Swanston (18 points) followed with a three-pointer from the corner to give James Madison a two-point lead.
With Neal bothered by his ailing foot, the Tigers had no offensive answers down the stretch, and James Madison, a subpar free-throw shooting team, closed with six consecutive free throws.
"I hurt it in the Drexel game, but made it through the second half [Saturday]," said Neal, who had a team-high 21 points. "I sat out practice this week getting treatment. It was all right for a while in the game, and then it started to get tight. It's hard for me to plant off my left foot and tougher to get open."
Said Dukes coach Dean Keener: "Against that zone I knew we were going to have to make some shots. Credit the kids for coming back after some difficult times in January. When you rebound, share the ball and defend well, it's a team win." firstname.lastname@example.org
JAMES MADISON-Swanston 5-12 5-7 18, James 6-11 2-5 14, Cathlin 0-2 0-0 0, Belfor 4-10 4-4 12, Freeman 7-15 0-0 17, Cooper 5-12 0-0 10, Lampley 0-0 0-0 0, Santos 1-1 0-0 3, Barbosa 1-4 0-0 2. Totals 29-67 11-16 76. TOWSON-Hamm 6-9 6-7 18, Abraham 6-9 0-0 13, Pratt 2-5 0-0 5, Crossin 1-6 2-2 4, Neal 6-16 6-8 21, Coleman 1-3 1-2 4, Tubbs 1-2 1-2 3. Totals 23-50 16-21 68. Halftime-Towson 38-37. 3-point goals-James Madison 7-23 (Freeman 3-7, Swanston 3-8, Santos 1-1, Barbosa 0-3, Belfor 0-4), Towson 6-19 (Neal 3-10, Abraham 1-1, Pratt 1-2, Coleman 1-2, Crossin 0-4). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-James Madison 44 (Cooper 11), Towson 27 (Hamm 12). Assists-James Madison 20 (Barbosa, Swanston 6), Towson 17 (Coleman 7). Total fouls-James Madison 17, Towson 16. A-2,069.