Men’s Basketball earns last minute victory against JMU

In keeping with the recent trend of games against James Madison University, the VCU men’s basketball team pulled off a close victory in the final minutes Wednesday night to take a 65-58 win.

In the last meeting between the two teams in February 2002 in Harrisonburg, JMU’s David Fanning put in a lay-up in the final minutes to take a 67-65 decision. No repeat could occur Wednesday night as Fanning fouled out in the last minutes after a 12-point effort.

The Rams (9-6, 4-3 CAA) took a commanding 14-point lead halfway through the second half, 52-38. In a game that would prove to be a see-saw battle, JMU (7-10, 3-4 CAA) went on a 14-0 run to tie the score with four minutes left in the game. A free throw by junior Troy Godwin and a basket by junior Domonic Jones broke the Dukes’ run, giving VCU a 55-52 lead.

The Dukes came back to tie the game 56-56 with just over two minutes left in the game, but clutch free-throw shooting by the Rams proved too much, powering the team to the close victory.

“I’m glad for the win,” Jeff Capel, VCU head coach said. “It didn’t come easy.

“We have to improve on our decision-making. We looked like a team that’d never seen a press.”

Capel received his first technical foul of his coaching career early in the first half. “It was in the heat of the moment,” Capel said. “First time for everything, I suppose.”

Things didn’t start off too well for VCU in the first half, as JMU quickly built a 10-2 lead. The Dukes scored a basket with 12 minutes left in the half to take a six-point lead, 15-9, but failed to score another point for the next five minutes. The Rams went on a 10-0 run to take a 19-15 lead during this time.

The Rams stretched the lead to 10-points, 27-17 with five minutes left in the half, but the Dukes proved too determined to close the gap, pulling within a point, 30-29 at half time.

VCU quickly built on the half time lead early in the second, building a 14-point lead middle-way through before the JMU comeback later in the half.

“I think maybe our guys don’t know how to play with a lead,” Capel said. “Sometimes defensively we tend to relax.”

For the game, Jones and senior Willie Taylor scored in double-figures for the Rams, with 19 and 15 points respectively. Freshman Nick George grabbed eight rebounds. JMU had four players in double-figures, senior Kenny Whitehead leading the way with 15 points, followed by junior Dwayne Broyles with 13. And seniors David Fanning with 12 and Ian Caskill with 11.

JMU head coach Sherman Dillard said, “I’m so disappointed that we had opportunities and we let it slip away.

“At the end, when it really mattered, (VCU) connected” on free throws.

Senior Antoine Willie and sophomore Derrick Reid started the game for the Rams, replacing regular starters Taylor and Godwin. Godwin was late to a team meeting and Capel felt that Willie could play better defensively than Taylor could.

The Rams out-rebounded the Dukes 40-35 for the game, but JMU had a 21-13 free throw advantage.

VCU’s next game is versus Towson Jan. 29 in Maryland.

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