An interception on a lobbed in bounds pass with 7.2 seconds remaining ultimately closed the door on the JMU’s chances of winning its home opener.
The Dukes came up short against George Washington University 54-53 on Wednesday night.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” said head coach Matt Brady. “It certainly can go either way, and I thought GW played the smarter final three minutes of the game.”
JMU’s designed play at the end of regulation had senior Devon Moore pass the ball to senior Rayshawn Goins. Moore was meant to get the ball back and head for the basket, but George Washington freshman Patricio Garino switched on a screen and jumped in front of Goins to intercept the pass and run down the court. He was then fouled on a layup by Goins. Garino made both of his shots from the stripe making it 54-50, ending any hope for the Dukes.
“I put my team in a bad position on the last play,” Brady said. “It was an odd spot to throw the ball in bounds, and I’ll take all the blame for that situation.”
While the closing seconds likely decided the game, Brady knew earlier in the game that the Dukes’ chances were low.
“I thought the difference in the game was the 16 offensive rebounds by GW,” Brady said. “They controlled the glass for the most part.”
The Colonials outrebounded the Dukes by 12, 40-38. George Washington held a 16-9 advantage on the offensive glass as well. Rebounding is something the Dukes struggled with all last season and still need to work on this year.
JMU started the game off with a bang sparked by freshman Andre Nation, who quickly picked up two steals that turned into two buckets. The latter was an alley-oop from Moore to Nation. The Dukes led the entire first half until they saw their eight-point lead diminish. The Colonials went on a 10-2 run to close out the first half, tying the game at 24 as the teams went into the locker rooms.
Nation finished the game leading all scorers with 19 points, five steals, four blocks and four rebounds.
“I was just excited for the first home game,” Nation said.
When asked if he was focusing on the defensive side, he quickly responded, “always.”
In what might be surprising to some JMU fans, senior A.J. Davis only logged four minutes of playing time, all of which came in the first half. In those four minutes he went 0-1 from behind the arc and turned the ball over twice.
“I didn’t think he deserved to play more than four minutes,” Brady said. “We didn’t have any communication, and I thought at that point if there wasn’t any communication then there wasn’t going to be an opportunity to play.”
Davis has seen his minutes drop over the last few games. He averages just more than 10 minutes of floor time and less than three points over the past four games. He played 32.4 minutes per game and scored 15.9 points per game last season.
“I met with A.J. over the weekend and told him that you need to be able to communicate and be positive,” Brady said. “We had a very frank discussion, and I think he knows where I stand on that.”
When asked about who Davis needs to communicate better with, Brady simply responded, “me.”
But Brady doesn’t seem to be too worried about the absence of his highest scoring player from last season. He seems more focused on how well his freshmen are playing.
“I think our freshmen are pushing our seniors,” Brady said. “I think the minutes are where they are suppose to be tonight. There’s going to be competition for minutes, and that’s how it should be.”
The Dukes (1-5) are just 3-8 in their last 11 home games dating back to last season. The team has a few days off before Winthrop comes to Harrisonburg for a nonconference game set for Saturday at 4 p.m. as a part of the Dukes’ November/December home stand.
Contact Stephen Proffitt at email@example.com.