JMU men’s basketball showed resilience, but the Dukes couldn’t get over the line and topple No. 1 seeded Hofstra. A double-double from graduate student center Jacquil Taylor and 17 points from senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman gave the Pride a 76-67 win, ending the Dukes’ season in the second round of the CAA tournament.
“I felt like it was a typical game,” head coach Louis Rowe said. “They hate losing. They believed they could win, and they believed they could win it all. That’s where it starts. Then, staying together and continuing to fight. I do think there’s things to build on for these young guys.”
A pair of clutch threes from junior forward Tareq Coburn stifled momentum from the upset-minded Dukes and helped Hofstra continue its search for its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001.
Sophomore guard Matt Lewis had a game-high 23 points and sophomore guard Darius Banks had 15 points and 12 rebounds despite a hand injury in JMU’s final game of its rollercoaster season.
“I think it’s all mental,” Banks said. “I just pushed through it. I know what I’ve got to do for my team.”
Redshirt senior guard Stuckey Mosley added nine points — all of which came in the second half — in what would be his final game as a Duke. Rowe revealed after the game that Mosley has been battling a shoulder injury.
Hofstra started the game with an energy JMU couldn’t match. Up 15-4 early, the Pride took advantage on the boards and pulled down five offensive rebounds which, in turn, resulted in six second-chance points.
Taylor’s presence in the paint led to Hofstra outscoring JMU inside through the first half 26-14, a necessary response to Hofstra’s poor shooting from downtown. Through the first 20 minutes, the Pride shot 18.2 percent from three compared to the Dukes’ 50 percent.
“We play a team defense,” Rowe said. “I thought early on that Taylor had a lot of energy … He’s an older, experienced guy, and for the first part of the game, he was alive … It doesn’t do any good to hold Wright-Foreman to 5-for-16 if we’re giving up offensive rebounds.”
JMU never led throughout the contest, but it made the game interesting down the stretch. A 3-pointer from Lewis tied the game at 46 with 14:35 left in the game, but junior guard Eli Pemberton answered with an and-one to push Hofstra back up three. Minutes later, Banks tied the game with a free throw, but Hofstra composed a 5-0 run to make it 54-49, prompting Rowe to call a timeout.
At that point, the Pride took control of the game and didn’t look back. Defensive lockdowns and open shots helped Hofstra build a lead that JMU couldn’t come back from.
“We got better from last year to this year, even from the regular season,” Lewis said. “People might say we had a disappointing season, we got a lot better. We got guys that didn’t play much last year … We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but the growth that we had, even from these last two games, from the regular season is huge.”
JMU finishes the season 14-19, while Hofstra stays alive as it looks to win a CAA Tournament championship for the first time since joining the conference. The Pride face the winner of William & Mary and Delaware on Monday.
Contact Noah Ziegler at email@example.com. For more basketball coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.