JMU guard Jalen Hodge looks for an open pass against George Mason on Nov. 20.

JMU men’s basketball fell to Murray State on Wednesday in the fifth-place match at the Naples Invitational, ending the Dukes’ run in the tournament at 1-2. 

Both the first and second halves played out in reverse to JMU’s last game versus Wright State — the Dukes led the Racers during the first half, but a Murray State 27-6 run to open the second half put the Racers ahead for good. 

The Dukes jumped out to a 13-2 lead six minutes into the game, but the Racers made it 13-9 at the under-12-minute media timeout. JMU’s lead extended back to 12 with 6:32 left in the first half, due in large part to baskets from two forwards: redshirt freshman Justin Amadi and graduate transfer Alonzo Sule. 

With 2:16 left in the first, Murray State cut JMU’s lead in half after a put-back layup from sophomore forward DJ Burns made it 26-20. Another Burns bucket and contributions from sophomore guard Trae Hannibal just before the half made JMU’s lead five, 30-25, at the half. 

Just 13 seconds into the second half, Murray State’s Justice Hill hit a 3-pointer — a sign of things to come for the rest of the game. An onslaught of Racer baskets, aided by JMU turnovers, created a 17-point swing and gave Murray State a 44-32 advantage with 14:41 to go. 

JMU battled back, however, cutting the Racer lead to as little as eight after a Sule layup made it 46-38. That was as close as JMU got in the second half — more JMU turnovers resulted in a three-minute scoring drought, and Murray State extended its lead to 15 after junior forward KJ Williams' 3-pointer with 9:12 left to make it 56-41. 

With 5:39 left, Williams put the nail in the coffin with two free throws and a layup, extending the Racers’ lead to 65-48. JMU graduate transfer guard Takal Molson tried to keep the Dukes alive with nine straight points late, but Murray State held strong down the stretch, winning 74-62. 

Four of Murray State’s five starters finished in double figures, but Hannibal led the Racers off the bench with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with eight rebounds. Molson led the Dukes with 14 points, and Sule and Falden added 10. 

JMU will stay in Florida to face Florida Atlantic on Nov. 28 at 2 p.m., while Murray State finishes in fifth in the Naples Invitational and sets its sights on a duel with Campbellsville on Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.

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