LIU Brooklyn's top-notch offense was no match for James Madison's lockdown defense, as the Dukes defeated the Blackbirds, 68-55, in Dayton on Wednesday to earn the No. 16 seed in the East region.
The Dukes will now play the No. 1-seeded Indiana Hoosiers on Friday in hopes of becoming the first No. 16 seed to win in the round of 64.
Guard A.J. Davis led the way for James Madison with 20 points and five rebounds, while Jamal Olasewere matched his game-high 20 for LIU Brooklyn. Charles Cooke chipped in 15 points and Andre Nation 14 for the Dukes, who had to play the first half without suspended leading scorer Rayshawn Goins.
Based on the early minutes, James Madison did not miss its leading scorer all that much on Wednesday.
Storming out from the opening tip to a 10-2 lead, it looked as if James Madison could be running off with the game early. The Dukes kept their lead around double digits for much of the first 10 minutes, stretching their advantage as high as 12 points thanks to a bevy of turnovers from LIU Brooklyn.
The Blackbirds coughed the ball up five times in the game's first 10 minutes, leading to easy transition buckets for James Madison. That has become something of the norm for LIU Brooklyn, which came into the contest averaging 14.4 mistakes a night.
The paradigm between high risk and high reward wound up shifting back in the Blackbirds' favor in the waning minutes of the first half. With James Madison keeping its lead stretched out to three possessions or more for much of the half, LIU Brooklyn's quick-strike offense finally started paying dividends.
Sprinting up and down the floor with the team's trademarked gazelle pace, shots finally started to drop from distance. C.J. Garner knocked down a two-pointer, Jason Brickman a three and Troy Joseph another bomb all in less than two minutes to cut a 12-point deficit down to four.
LIU Brooklyn ended the final 4:30 of the first half on a 15-5 run to go into halftime with momentum and down just 32-31.
After the halftime break, the momentum stayed right where it was going into locker room—at least initially. The Blackbirds came back out looking solid again on offense and took their first lead of the game on two E.J. Reed free throws a little less than five minutes into the half.
It would be the only lead LIU Brooklyn held all night. The team's total time in the lead? Less than a minute. A Devon Moore layup with 14:18 remaining on the clock put James Madison back in the lead and started an 8-0 run that would ultimately spark the team's victory. The Dukes once again kept their lead to multiple possessions, pulling away every time the Blackbirds got remotely close.
LIU Brooklyn scored just 15 points after taking that brief lead, as James Madison held it to only 35.6 percent shooting. A loss versus Indiana is likely coming on Friday, but for now, the Dukes are one of three teams to say they won at the 2013 NCAA tournament.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, this was James Madison's first tournament win since 1983:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
James Madison defeats LIU Brooklyn for the Dukes' first NCAA Tournament win since 1983.2013-3-21 00:39:53
Jeff Rabjohns of Peegs.com was not impressed with the physicality—or lack thereof—between LIU Brooklyn and James Madison:
Jeff Rabjohns @JeffRabjohns
First blush: No physical play from JMU or LIU-Brooklyn. I see more contact each weekend in 4A high school ball in Indy.2013-3-20 22:58:58
Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated's Andy Glockner seemed more concerned with the rather strange font style on the Blackbirds' uniforms:
Andy Glockner @AndyGlockner
I will say that LIU Brooklyn has the worst font I have ever seen on their uniforms.2013-3-20 22:42:01
Following a ferocious dunk from Jamal Olasewere, CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello was dazzled:
Jeff Borzello @jeffborzello
My goodness. Jamal Olasewere. Get some.2013-3-21 00:15:25
In the most endearing tweet of the night, James Madison's official feed urged fans to start wearing purple in support of the Dukes versus Indiana:
Fill in your brackets! Start Wearing Purple! JMU v. Indiana on Friday! Go DUKES!!!!2013-3-21 00:40:40
Though they will likely need all the support they can get on Friday, Wednesday is a night of celebration for the young men at James Madison.
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