The game between James Madison and College of Charleston was officially scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon
When the Cougars walked off the court at halftime at the JMU Convocation Center and headed into their locker room trailing the Dukes 43-26, Charleston coach Earl Grant reminded his players that the game started at 4 p.m. and not 4:40 p.m.
While the Cougars played better over the final 20 minutes of the game, cutting it to a one-possession game at one point, it still wasn’t enough as Darius Banks scored 21 points to lead four players in double figures as James Madison defeated College of Charleston 69-58 on Saturday in Harrisonburg, Va.
The Cougars (13-3, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) had their 10-game winning streak snapped with the loss. The Dukes improved to 8-9, 1-3.
While the Cougars were lethargic during the opening minutes of the game, the Dukes couldn’t miss. James Madison shot better than 65 percent from the floor during the first half and made 7 of 10 shots from 3-point range.
"Obviously, it was very uncharacteristic for us to not have the energy or tenacity we needed to play defense in the first half,” Grant said. “We know we’ve got to play defense on the road to win. They were on an 86-point pace in the first half, and you’ve got to give them credit, they made some tough shots. We had some breakdowns in transition. We played better in the second half, but I told the guys that the game started at four o’clock and not 4:40.”
The Cougars clawed their way back into the game in the second half, using a 14-0 run to cut the gap to 52-50 on two free throws from Grant Riller with 10:10 to play. Charleston had two chances to tie or take the lead but couldn't get any closer.
“We just couldn’t get that next shot to get us over the hump,” Grant said. “You have to be proud of the way we fought back in the second half, but we’ve got understand that we have to play for 40 minutes, and we didn’t do that today.”
- One of the few bright spots for the Cougars was the play for freshman Jaylen Richard, who scored a career-high 15 points and had four steals and one assist.
“He gave us great energy off the bench,” Grant said. “I was happy about the way he came into the game and responded, especially since he didn’t play the last three or four games. For him to go into the game, to play the way that he did with the deflections and steals. The confidence to drive the ball, make plays and making a big three, it certainly caught my attention. He will continue to be in our rotation. The last two games, he has helped us. We didn’t win tonight, and it was disappointing, but it’s good to see him step up and make plays the way that he did.”
Richard said he has tried to patient in hopes of getting his opportunity to play more.
“I was just playing my role,” Richard said. “When I come into a game, I just try to bring energy and try to win. Coach (Grant) talks about winning plays, and that’s all I was trying to do. Me and Coach Q (Quinton Ferrell), when we work out, he always says, ‘your time will come,’ and tonight it did, and I was ready for it.”
- Besides Richard, the Cougars bench outscored the Dukes bench 24-5. Junior Jaylen McManus had nine points and seven rebounds.
“We had some guys come in and step up and give us some energy,” Grant said.
- The Cougars have the CAA’s second-ranked scoring defense and gave up just two points over their average to the Dukes. However, James Madison shot 54 percent from the floor and was 10 of 19 from 3-point range for the game.
“Anytime you play against another team, you have to give them credit,” Grant said. “They made some shots, too.”
- The Cougars also committed 13 turnovers, which was three more than their average.
The Cougars opened their CAA schedule with three straight road games but return home to face Drexel on Thursday night at TD Arena at 7 p.m. The Cougars have the nation’s second-longest home winning streak at 22 games.