HARRISONBURG, Virginia – UNCW had two good looks in the final five seconds, but neither fell and the Seahawks' two-game winning streak is history after James Madison held on for a 64-62 decision in a televised Colonial Athletic Association matinee Saturday at the JMU Convocation Center.
The Dukes swept the regular season series and improved to 10-17 overall and 5-8 in the conference. The Seahawks are now 8-20 and 2-11.
Graduate forward Andrey Semenov has enjoyed some big games against the Seahawks and he continued that trend, pouring in a game-high 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 4-of-7 behind the arc. He anchored four players in double digits for Matt Brady's club.
Sophomore guard Ron Curry added 13 points – including a critical bucket in final minute - and sophomore guards Andre Nation and Charles Cooke contributed 10 apiece for the Dukes, who also beat the Seahawks, 60-55, back on Jan. 4 at Trask Coliseum.
Senior guard Tanner Milson led the Seahawks for the second time this season with 11 points. In a balanced scoring attack, six other players had at least five points for the Seahawks, who could not overcome 38.6 percent shooting 16 turnovers.
Chris Dixon's clutch triple from the top of the key with 56 seconds left tied the game at 62-all, but Curry sliced inside and got the roll on a difficult shot in traffic as JMU grabbed the lead back, 64-62, with 32 seconds remaining.
The Seahawks then called time out, worked the ball around and called time out again with six seconds on the clock for a last-second attempt. Milson launched an off-balanced trey on the right wing and Shane Reybold's putback bounced off the backboard to allow JMU to escape with the win.
"We didn't get a great look at it, but I like what our kids did today," said fourth-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. "We fought and scrapped back after being down double digits. We hung in there and did a good job.
"Curry hit a tough shot to give them the two-point lead. I thought our defense was good there. We were very unfortunate not to get the win, but I like the way our team is playing right now and the momentum we have going into the tournament."
"Both groups did a good job and are playing with a lot of confidence. We were so close. We could have gotten a victory with one or two stops."
JMU built a 34-26 lead at halftime and increased the margin to as many as 13 points in the second half before surviving several comebacks by the Seahawks.
The Dukes scored seven of the first nine points of the second half and the lead swelled to 41-28, on a dunk by Cooke at 18:25.
UNCW chipped away and finally took the lead for the first time since midway in the first half when reserve swing man Luke Hager knifed inside for a bank shot to give the Seahawks a 57-56 edge at 4:13.
JMU responded, however, with a putback by Cooke and a pair of free throws by Curry to get the advantage back to 60-57 before the thrilling finish.
The 6-7, 200-pound Semenov canned 4-of-5 field goals, including 3-of-4 from deep, to give the Dukes a spark in the first half as JMU built a 34-26 lead at the break.
After Hager connected on a triple along the left wing to give UNCW a 13-9 edge at 13:19, the Dukes, behind Semenov, took control. Semenov drained his third straight trifecta and Cooke added a free throw to give the Dukes a 20-15 advantage with just under nine minutes remaining.
JMU then kept that separation the rest of the half by forcing 12 turnovers and grabbed their largest lead of the opening period on Yolanny Dalembert's massive jam along the right baseline with just over a minute remaining.
UNCW travels over to Williamsburg, Va., for the regular season road finale on Monday, playing William & Mary's Tribe in a 7 p.m. tip-off at Kaplan Arena. JMU remains at home to entertain Drexel on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: UNCW's largest lead of the game was four points…The Seahawks won the rebounding battle, 33-32…JMU finished with 11 steals…The Seahawks went 7-of-23 from long distance…Chris Dixon's four assists paced the Seahawks…Both teams scored 24 points in the paint…Ben Eblen fouled out for the first time…Junior forward Cedrick Williams failed to score in double figures for the fourth consecutive game…UNCW had 16 offensive rebounds…JMU tied the all-time series at 33-all…The Dukes have won four straight over the Seahawks…JMU has won five consecutive games over UNCW in Harrisonburg….UNCW outscored JMU, 36-30, in the second half.