Cougars downed by Dukes

It’s the small things, the attention to details that are hurting the College of Charleston basketball team late in the season.

It’s not blocking out a player underneath the basket or forcing a player who favors his right hand to his left.

When these minor issues are put altogether, it leads up to another loss.

Yohanny Dalembert scored 21 points and hauled down eight rebounds and Winston Grays added 13 points to lead James Madison past College of Charleston, 68-61, Sunday afternoon at the JMU Convocation Center.

The game was supposed to be played Saturday afternoon, but a foot of snow fell in the Harrisonburg, Va., area and school officials were forced to move the matchup to Sunday.

“Right now, we’re not paying attention to details and the small things,” said College of Charleston coach Earl Grant. “I’ve got to do a better job, the coaching staff has to do a better job, we have to do a better job of teaching the players the right way to play. It’s not the big things, it’s the small things, and those add up during a game.

“We are tinkering around with being a good team. It’s more of the same. It’s details. It’s discipline. It’s small things that end up costing you a game.”

Dalembert proved to be too much in the paint for the Cougars. The 6-8 sophomore forward was 5 of 9 from the floor, but collected six offensive rebounds that led to eight second-chance points. Dalembert would take a shot, miss it, get his own rebound or get to the free throw line. He went to the free throw line 14 times, making 11 attempts. Dalembert’s half-brother, Samuel, is a free agent who has played 13 seasons in the NBA, most recently with the New York Knicks.

“We told the guys before the game that Dalembert’s best offensive play was missing his initial shot, getting his own rebound, and getting second-chance points,” Grant said. “He’s a big, physical player in the paint. We didn’t do a good job of blocking him out. He kicked our butts.”

The other issue for the Cougars came at the free throw line. The Dukes (18-11, 11-5 Colonial Athletic Association) dominated at the free throw line, going 24 of 35 for the game. The Cougars (8-21, 3-13) attempted just nine free throws, making eight.

“You go back to Dalembert, who took 14 free throws, and that really is the bulk of their free throws,” Grant said. “That’s really just one guy kicking our butts. We need to play with more toughness, we need to block out, we need to do a better job. I’ve got to do a better job.”

The Cougars kept things close throughout, shooting better than 50 percent for most of the opening half. The Cougars trailed 32-28 at halftime.

A 7-0 run by the Dukes late in the second half opened up game as Grays’ 3-pointer gave James Madison a 58-46 lead with 5:53 to play.

The Cougars answered with a 7-0 run of their own to close the gap to 58-53 on two free throws from Joe Chealey with 4:05 remaining, but that would be as close as the Cougars would get the rest of the way.

Chealey led the Cougars with 19 points and Cameron Johnson added 13 points.

The Cougars will travel to Long Island, N.Y., to take on Hofstra on Wednesday at 7 p.m.