It was evident JMU had not played a game in almost four weeks during its nine-point loss against former CAA foe East Carolina on Saturday afternoon.
JMU opened the game with energy, but it was accompanied by missed 3-point shots and turnovers, demonstrative of a long hiatus. The Dukes shot 7-of-28 from the 3-point line, had 19 turnovers and shot 40% from the field, which all contributed to dropping to a 2-2 record in the young season.
Senior Matt Lewis had a team-high 19 points for the Dukes, while Louisiana-Monroe transfer Jalen Hodge shot 3-of-7 from 3-point range coming off the bench.
The Dukes’ inability to practice for more than an hour and a half during finals week, experiencing 27 total days of quarantine since the teams first practice and having only five practices in the last 16 days were not ingredients to a successful game against a solid East Carolina team.
East Carolina led 33-25 at the half, and the Dukes were unable to put a dent in the lead, at any point, in the second half. JMU committed five fouls in the first 4:50 coming out of the half, which put the team in foul trouble early. The Pirates led by 16 points at its peak, 59-43, and were able to hold the lead by controlling the tempo of the game with many long possessions down the stretch.
With the win, the Pirates advance to 6-1 and finish the season undefeated against non-conference opponents.
ECU finished with four players scoring in double figures, even with 10 point-per-game scorer senior guard JJ Miles not playing. Bench players sophomore forward Brandon Suggs and senior guard Bitumba Baruti led the way for East Carolina with 18 and 16 points, respectively.
These two players, combined with the Pirates’ positive assist-to-turnover ratio, and the teams willingness to draw charges all game, paved the way to a home win in the No. 48 matchup between the Dukes and Pirates.
JMU has a quick turnaround against NAIA opponent Alice Lloyd College tomorrow at 5 p.m., before starting conference play Jan. 3 against Towson.
ECU looks to get its first win in American Athletic Conference play against Tulane on Tuesday.
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