"I was really impressed with the way James Madison shot the basketball," said WVU head coach Gale Catlett. "I had watched tape, and David Fanning had shot well, but none of the others shot like they did tonight. They were hard to guard. They had a lot of juice in their legs. I thought our kids played hard, but they were beating us to the ball and beating us to the boards."
The Mountaineers really had no answers on either end, offensively or defensively. The Dukes got a 29-point effort from David Fanning, and Dwayne Broyles added 20.
JMU outrebounded West Virginia 44-29, and even though WVU committed just seven turnovers, James Madison countered that by hitting 12 of 20 three-point shots.
West Virginia's problems began almost from the outset. It was a first half the Mountaineers would have just as soon forgot. They certainly didn't remember how to play much defense in the opening 20 minutes.
The Dukes shot a sizzling 60.7 percent from the floor (17 of 28) and 75 percent from three-point range (six of eight) enroute to 58 first half points. WVU didn't have a single steal and allowed James Madison to dish out nine assists. Most of those went to Fanning, who was hitting shots over pretty much every Mountaineer in the first half. He rang up 19 points in the period, nailing five of his six three-point attempts.
JMU led wire-to-wire in the first half, though its biggest lead was its last. It took a 48-36 advantage into the lockerroom when Chris Williams knocked down a pair of free throws with two seconds left.
The momentum quickly changed in the second half, though. The Dukes did score an early bucket to open their lead up to 14, but then the Mountaineers answered with four straight treys, two each from Jonathan Hargett and Josh Yeager. That quickly narrowed the game to 50-48, but JMU responed with a 7-2 mini-run and reseized the vocal attention of the boisterous crowd of 4,961 at the Convocation Center.
James Madison kept hitting shots, but for a while, Hargett had answers. That kept WVU close. Another Hargett three brought West Virginia to within 69-63 with 9:37 left. The Dukes scored four quick points, though, and again the advantage was double digits.
From that point on, JMU did all it needed to -- hit all the shots, made all the steals, got all the loose balls, grabbed all the rebounds. James Madison's lead grew as large as 14 with 2:05 left. West Virginia tried to cut into that margin, but it didn't have enough on this night to answer Fanning and his red hot Dukes.
The final margin of 16, 91-75, was the biggest of the game. The Mountaineers finished with four players in double figures, led by Hargett's 24. But this wasn't the most impressive performance of the freshman point guard's young career, as he made just eight of 25 shots and had three turnovers to counter his four assists.
Chris Moss provided WVU with basically its only inside scoring, as he chipped in 15 points. Drew Schifino also had 15, while Yeager added 10.
"Hopefully this will help us in the long run," explained a introspective Catlett. "Maybe we will start to listen better in practice. We had been playing well in games, because we had been getting by on talent. But we hadn't been a good practice team. I told the team I thought it would catch up to us sometime, and it did tonight. We had been winning before on talent, but we hadn't been playing fundamentally sound basketball. Maybe this will teach our players they have to do the fundamental things correctly. We have a lot of things to work on."
For the Mountaineers, the work will continue on Saturday night, when they host Florida International at 7 p.m. in the WVU Coliseum.
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