HARRISONBURG,VA (WWAY) -- Senior forward Denzel Bowles scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to power James Madison to its ninth straight victory with a 63-54 trimming of UNCW on Saturday in Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball action at the JMU Convocation Center.
The Dukes hiked their record to 15-3 overall and 5-1 in the CAA, reeling off their ninth consecutive home win without a loss. The Seahawks stand 9-8 overall and 3-3 in the CAA after dropping the first leg in a two-game road trip that features two of the circuit's top tier teams.
"In order for us to play against the top tier teams in this league, we need to raise our intensity level and be ready to go," said first-year UNCW coach Buzz Peterson. "We got it down to five points and couldn't get a stop. Overall, the possessons and tempo was right where we wanted it to be. We had some wide open looks and couldn't knock them down."
Bowles led all scorers in the game with his ninth double double of the season and the 21st of his career. Redshirt sophomore guard Devon Moore added 14 points and junior guard Julius Wells had 12 for the Dukes, who rebounded from 31.3 percent shooting in the first half with a 55.2 percent clip after the break to pull away from the pesky Seahawks.
Senior guard Chad Tomko paced the Seahawks with 17 points and junior forward Keith Rendleman chipped in 13 markers, including 11 in a strong second half. Tomko and Rendleman each had six rebounds.
The Seahawks struggled offensively in the first half, shooting a frigid 29.6 percent, and would up hitting just 36.8 percent on the night.
In the only regular season meeting between the two schools, the Dukes inched out to a 25-21 lead at intermission and led by as many 14 points in the second half before avenging a three-point loss last season in Wilmington.
After trading buckets with the Seahawks to open the second half, JMU rode the hot hand of Wells to gain some separation. Wells drained a three-pointer from the right corner with 17:20 left to play to increase the lead to 34-25.
But Rendleman, scoring in double figures for the fifth consecutive game, chopped the deficit to 36-30 with a conventional three-point play at 15:58 to keep the Seahawks within striking distance.
The 6-10, 260-pound Bowles, however, went to work inside and scored six of JMU's next eight points on an assortment of shots inside to keep the Dukes ahead. Bowles connected on a basket in the paint with 11:37 remaining to push the lead to double digits, 43-32, and added a bucket in the lane with 2:21 on the block to hand the Dukes their largest lead of the contest, 63-49.
In the first half, JMU capitalized on UNCW's cold start to build a 17-8 cushion midway through the period.
While the Seahawks were missing eight of their first nine field goal attempts. the Dukes jumped out to a 12-4 lead behind the inside play of Bowles, a transfer from Texas A&M. Bowles scored in the paint at 13:12 and JMU led by eight points at 13:12.
The lead ballooned to nine points before the Dukes hit a dry stretch and reserve guard Darryl Felder rallied the Seahawks. A jumper on the right elbow by Tomko started a 9-0 run that was capped by Felder's bucket at 3:05 that brought the Seahawks even at 17-all.
Following a pair of free throws by Rayshawn Goins, Tomko made a free throw and rookie guard Tanner Milson gave UNCW its first and final lead of the game, 21-20, with a triple from the right corner with 1:13 left in the half.
JMU regrouped to score the final five points of the period on two more free throws by Goins and a trey by Moore with 42 ticks left in the half.
UNCW heads to Hempstead, N.Y., on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. clash against the Pride at the Mack Sports Complex. JMU travels to Norfolk, Va., on Wednesday to battle Old Dominion at the Ted Constant Center.
GAME NOTES: UNCW still leads the 60-game series by a 32-28 margin...JMU won for the 16th time in the 26 meetings at the JMU Convocation Center...The Dukes won their third straight over the Seahawks in Harrisonburg...The two teams combined for 11-for-41 behind the arc...The Seahawks went 6-for-7 at the free throw line....The two teams attempted a total of 15 free throws...With Bowles leading the way, JMU won the rebounding battle, 39-35...Bowles had 15 points and seven rebounds in the second half...UNCW is now 3-3 against Virginia opponents this season...The Seahawks are 1-7 when trailing at halftime.
Article courtesy UNCW Sports Information