Harrisonburg, VA – In the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opener for both teams, the College of Charleston Cougars (9-3) came out with a hard-fought victory over the James Madison Dukes (10-4), 65-62, that came down to the game’s final seconds.
Both teams have been off since December 22nd, when JMU drubbed Mount St. Mary’s, 73-53, and Charleston knocked off Campbell, 86-68. JMU came into the game riding an eight-game winning streak, the program’s longest streak since the 2010-2011 season, while Charleston had won six of their last seven games. The match-up was just the sixth meeting all-time between the two programs.
The player many people were curious to see today was, Canyon Barry, son of NBA Hall of Famer, Rick Barry. Unfortunately, Barry struggled with his shot the entire game, going 0-of-13 from the floor including a 0-of-7 performance from three-point land. Barry came into the game averaging 22.1 points per game, good from 14th in the nation. He finished with two points for the game. His two points turned out to be the two most important points as he canned two free throws to seal the game with 3.2 seconds left. Barry knocked the shots down using his father’s patented underhanded shooting form much to the delight of the fans.
JMU head coach Matt Brady had this to say about Barry’s struggles on the day: “We obviously game planned to stop him. That was a little bit of us and just as much, probably, him. I thought that Jackson (Kent) being a bigger guard and being with him on every catch was significant. And then I think when he tried to drive we brought a second guy to him very quickly. You know, who knows, the next time we play them he could go crazy. He’s a good player.”
College of Charleston head coach Earl Grant didn’t feel as if his star player played that poorly. “Coming into the CAA, everybody is going to try to stop him but he played 33 minutes because he did a lot of good things. He played great defense tonight. His length on defense allowed him to challenge a lot of shots. He got some big, crucial rebounds late tonight. And probably the biggest thing he did was, with three seconds left, the hardest thing to do is step up and make two free throws and he stepped up and hit them both.”
Barry’s struggles provided an opportunity for two of Charleston’s younger players to step up and put the conference on notice that the Cougars will be a tough match-up in league play. Sophomore guard, Cameron Johnson (6-4, 196), and freshman forward, Jarrell Brantley (6-7, 245), provided enough offense for the Cougars to hold off a hot JMU team.
Johnson finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, going 5-of-8 from three, along with five rebounds. Johnson also showed some stifling defensive ability as he pressured JMU’s star guard, Ron Curry, into some uncharacteristic turnovers throughout the game.
Brantley was the best player on the floor, however. The freshman finished the game with 29 points on 13-of-14 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Brantley’s quick first step proved too difficult for JMU’s post players to contain and led to several easy points in the paint including a baseline, two-handed jam.
JMU head coach Matt Brady on Brantley’s performance, “Their one frontcourt player out played our entire frontcourt. I think his (Brantley) quickness with the ball from two dribbles away from the rim was really a problem.”
For James Madison senior guard Ron Curry continued his hot play of late, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting (5-of-7 from three). Redshirt-junior Dimitrije Cabarkapa also had another solid outing posting 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and four rebounds in 22 minutes of play. Cabarkapa has now made at least one three-point shot in 22 straight games as well.
Curry and Cabarkapa carried the Dukes down the stretch as they went on a 17-5 run to take the lead late in the game. Charleston then got a big basket from freshman guard Marquise Pointer to put them up two with under 20 seconds left to play. The Dukes put the ball in the hands of Curry to make a play to win or tie the game. Curry drove hard to the rim and got fouled but only made one of two free throws and setting up Barry’s game-sealing free throws.
Matt Brady wasn’t concerned about his star guard’s missed free throw down the stretch. In fact, he expects Curry to learn and grow from the miss. “Most of the time, Ron’s going to come through. There’s going to be games, hopefully not too many, you know, where he won’t come through. I got great confidence in Ron. He’ll bounce back and he’ll play well on Saturday (against Delaware).”
JMU came into the game leading the CAA in field goal percentage and three-point field goal percentage. Charleston held the Dukes to 43% shooting for the game and 37.5% from three for the game. The Cougars also won the rebounding battle, 37-31, and the turnover battle, 10-14.
James Madison will head to Delaware for their second CAA game of the season on January 2, 2016. College of Charleston will finish up their four-game road trip by visiting William and Mary also on January 2nd.
This article was written by Jeremy Hartman, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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