News Release from UNCW:
WILMINGTON, North Carolina – Sophomore guard Charles Cooke scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting, including a pair of critical free throws with 23 seconds remaining, as James Madison edged host UNCW, 60-55, in the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball opener for both teams Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Dukes won their third straight game and fourth in five outings to improve to 6-9 overall and 1-0 in the CAA. The Seahawks dipped to 6-10 and 0-1 with their sixth consecutive loss in CAA debuts.
"We're obviously disappointed with losing," said fourth-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. "I thought James Madison with their zone, but that's no surprise to us. They packed it in and we're going to see a lot of that.
"I liked the way we scrapped back to tie it up, but we just couldn't make plays at the end. We just have to get more consistent play."
Cooke, a second-year player from Trenton, N.J., missed just three field goal attempts and grabbed nine rebounds to pace the Dukes, who shot 45.1 percent from the floor. Andrey Semenov was the only other player in double figures for JMU with 13 points.
Junior forward Cedrick Williams and junior guard Freddie Jackson led UNCW with nine points apiece. Williams also collected a game-high 11 rebounds and four blocks in a career-high 38 minutes.
The Dukes, now 3-6 away from home, never trailed in the contest and survived a late charge by UNCW to claim their third victory in a row in Wilmington. It was JMU's fourth consecutive CAA-opening win against UNCW without a loss.
After JMU freshman guard Jackson Kent scored on a putback of his own miss with 7:49 remaining, the Seahawks scored six straight points and a layup by redshirt sophomore forward Dylan Sherwood knotted the game at 53-all with just over five minutes remaining.
But Semenov scored on a layup and Kent connected on another jumper from the left elbow to give the Dukes a four-point edge before UNCW's Craig Ponder dropped in a pair of free throws to slice the lead to 57-55 with 32 seconds left. Cooke then made two free throws and Semenov added another charity toss to seal the Dukes the final verdict.
JMU took advantage of UNCW's early cold spell to grab control of the contest. Leading 5-4, the Dukes reeled off 11 unanswered points and Cooke's layup at 14:52 gave JMU a 16-4 cushion. Four different players scored in the spurt for JMU, while UNCW missed eight of its first 11 field goal attempts.
The Seahawks cut into the margin and narrowed the deficit to seven points, 29-22, on Chris Dixon's triple from the top of the key at 4:20. A 7-0 spurt help the Seahawk creep to 33-29 with 1:33 left in the first half when Luke Hager converted a layup.
But the Dukes converted both ends of a bonus situation and a short jumper to carry a 37-30 lead into intermission. Cooke had 13 points at the break as the Dukes shot 50 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Seahawks in the first period, 20-12.
The Seahawks open a two-game road swing to the Northeast on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. matchup against Northeastern at historic Matthews Arena before moving down to Towson for a Saturday tilt with the Tigers. JMU travels to Charleston for a Monday date at the College of Charleston.
GAME NOTES: Redshirt freshman C.J. Gettys made his second career start for the Seahawks…UNCW played without injured players Shane Reybold and Chuck Ogbodo…JMU wound up with a 40-29 advantage on the glass…Both teams had 11 turnovers…There were two ties in the game…JMU went 11-of-19 at the free throw line and UNCW made 13-of-23 free throws…The Dukes scored 30 points in the paint…UNCW outscored JMU, 25-23, in the second half…All 10 players that suited up scored for the Seahawks…UNCW stands 3-4 at home this season…Taylor Bessick also had nine boards for the Dukes, who featured four players with six or more rebounds.