Playing without their leading scorer and rebounder for the first half of Wednesday night’s First Four game against Long Island-Brooklyn, the James Madison Dukes got a big lift from four starters who filled the void with point totals well above their season averages.
Senior forward and Columbus native A.J. Davis led the way with 20 points as JMU led for 19 minutes and 20 seconds of its 68-55 victory in a battle of No. 16 seeds at UD Arena.
The win keeps the Dukes (21-14) in Dayton, where they will face Midwest Region No. 1 seed Indiana at 4:10 p.m. Friday.
Davis averages just 12.1 points per game, but he scored eight of the team’s first 17 points while senior Rayshawn Goins served a 20-minute suspension on the bench following a weekend arrest for yelling obscenities as police and inciting a crowd.
Charles Cooke, a freshman guard who averages only 5.1 points and hadn’t scored at all in three of the last four games, added 15 points, freshman Andre Nation (8.7) tossed in 14, and senior guard Alioune Diouf (4.8) contributed eight.
Goins ended up playing just 13 minutes but still finished with a team-high eight rebounds and four points.
Senior forward Jamal Olasewere (20-14) led the Blackbirds with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Back in the tournament for the first time since 1992, the La Salle Explorers posted just their second victory since 1983 with a 80-71 triumph of Boise State in Wednesday’s nightcap.
La Salle (22-9) led for the final 35 minutes and 44 seconds and will advance to play a second-game game Friday in Kansas City against No. 4 Kansas State.
Junior guard Tyler Garland came off the bench to lead the Explorers with 22 points, while senior guard Ramon Galloway added 21. The duo combined to go 17 of 24 from the field, including 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
Boise State got within six with 1:54 to go, and again with 50 seconds left, but the Broncos missed four of their final five shots. Sophomore guard Anthony Drmic, a native of Australia, scored a game-high 28 points for BSU, which fell to 0-6 in the tournament and finished its season 21-11.
The Dukes, who started five guards, recorded a season-high 10 blocks. Freshman Andre Nation tied his season high with five, with four other players registering at least one.
“What I’ll say about Rayshawn (Goins) is he’s as nice a young fella as I’ve ever coached, and I’ve done this for 20 years. I think he feels remorseful and feels he let his teammates down. He apologized to his teammates the other day, and we all felt somber about the situation. He’s a terrific kid from a very disadvantaged background. He made one mistake, and we’re trying to move on.”
With the La Salle pep band unable to make the trip due to class commitments, the Cedarville University band donned blue and gold shirts and helped cheer the Explorers to the victory against Boise State.
There are no games at UD Arena today, but all eight teams who will be playing Friday will hold practices that are free and open to the public.
The practices begin with Temple from Noon-12:40 p.m., followed by James Madison (12:45-1:25), North Carolina State (1:30-2:10), Indiana (2:15-2:55), Ohio State (4:25-5:05), Notre Dame (5:10-5:50), Iona (5:55-6:35) and Iowa State (6:40-7:20).