M. bball tripped up by red-hot James Madison | The Triangle
Men's Basketball

M. bball tripped up by red-hot James Madison

Guard Damion Lee sizes up a defender against St. Joe's Nov. 17. (Ken Chaney - The Triangle)
Guard Damion Lee sizes up a defender against St. Joe’s Nov. 17. (Ken Chaney – The Triangle)
A flurry of desperation three-pointers couldn’t help the Drexel University men’s basketball team overcome a nearly flawless second half from James Madison University as the Dragons fell to the Dukes, 82-78, Feb. 18.

The Dragons knocked down five three-point shots in 118 seconds to trim a 12-point James Madison advantage down to a three-point gap with 23 seconds to play. But a converted free throw by James Madison’s Ron Curry and a missed three-point attempt from sophomore guard Sammy Mojica Jr. sank the Dragons in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The loss marked the second straight defeat for Drexel after winning six straight games.

Curry and the Dukes were the catalysts of their own success when the game turned explosive in the second half.

After mild shooting performances from both teams in the first 20 minutes — both teams shot below 40 percent from the field — the Dukes erupted to hit 15 of their 18 field goal attempts in the second half.

Curry, who finished the night with a team-high 25 points for James Madison, knocked down all four of his field goal attempts in the second half, including two from deep and hit seven free throws for 17 second-half points.

Dukes forward Tom Vodanovich scored 11 points in the second stanza, making all three field goal attempts and draining four of four free throw attempts.

James Madison’s lights-out performance drew the curtains on a similarly electric second-half showing from Drexel’s Damion Lee. The junior guard Lee piled up 18 points in the second stanza on six-of-nine shooting, drilling four shots from behind the arc.

But Lee’s efforts were for naught. Any time he — or any one of the four Dragons who finished in double digits — managed to tie the score in the second half, the Dukes had an appropriate answer.

Freshman guard Rashann London tied it at 37 with one of his three triples. On the next possession, Vodanovich dropped in a layup. When Lee tied it at 41 with a layup of his own, James Madison’s Dimitrije Cabarkapa sank a jumper.

The same thing happened at 43, and then 46 and then 49. Each time, James Madison interjected. The Dragons didn’t lead for a single second in the game, never able to turn a tie game into an advantage.

The Dukes led for almost the entire first half, relinquishing just a minute of game time to a tie score. After jumping out to a 19-8 lead and forcing Drexel head coach James “Bruiser” Flint to call a timeout, the Dukes seemed to be in control.

But a 10-2 run from the Dragons — which involved four different scorers — made it a three-point game, and Drexel remained in striking distance for the rest of the half, entering the locker rooms down 33-29.

The entire game was a physical, foul-ridden affair. The trend started in the first half, when 19 fouls were called and 23 foul shots were taken. By the time the final buzzer sounded, the referees whistled 37 fouls and the teams took 50 foul shots.

James Madison attempted 33 of those 50 foul shots, and the Dukes’ fundamentals shone through all night long. Matt Brady’s squad knocked down 26 of 33 free throw attempts. Curry buried 13 of 16 by himself, nearly matching Drexel’s mark of 14-for-17 from the charity stripe.

Senior guard Freddie Wilson played his best game of the season for the Dragons, scoring 16 points off the bench and knocking down four three pointers on five attempts. Three of those deep balls came during the Dragons’ late surge in the final two minutes.

Freshman guard Rashann London scored 13 points, eclipsing double digits for the first time since Jan. 5, and added six assists while committing just one turnover.