HEMPSTEAD, NY – Sophomore guard Charles Jenkins (Queens, NY) scored a game-high 32 points and set a career-high with 13 assists while senior forward Zygis Sestokas (Vilnius, Lithuania) knocked down a trio of three-pointers in the second overtime session on his way to a career-high 19 points as the Hofstra Men’s Basketball team pulled out a wild 99-96 double-overtime win over James Madison University in a key CAA matchup Wednesday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
With the win, the Pride improves to 18-9 overall and 10-6 in the CAA, moving into a three-way tie for fourth place with Drexel and Old Dominion (the top four finishers receive byes in the CAA Tournament).
Hofstra also improved its record to 11-2 this season in games decided by four points or less and improved its winning streak in the series with James Madison to 10 games (including a triple-overtime win, a double-overtime win, and two game winning shots in the last 10 seconds of regulation). James Madison slips to 17-11 overall and 9-7 in conference play.
It was a war of attrition as Hofstra forward Greg Washington (Centereach, NY) and James Madison forward Andrey Semenov both missed the game with illnesses. Both starting point guards, Hofstra’s Greg Johnson (Harlem, NY) and James Madison’s Devon Moore were lost to injuries in regulation, as was James Madison starting center Dazzmond Thornton. The contest featured 11 lead changes, 11 ties and had ten players scored in double figures as both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor.
Sophomore guard Nathaniel Lester also set a career high with 22 points
and tied his top mark of 11 rebounds. Senior forward Darren Townes
(New York, NY) added five of his season-high 15 total points in the first overtime session to help the Pride extend its winning streak to four, and improve to 8-2 in its last 10. Julius Wells matched Jenkins nearly shot-for-shot, scoring 32 points as every Dukes starter finished in double figures, and Juwann James’s 19 points off the bench gave James Madison six players with 10 or more.
The Pride set a season-high in points and shot over 50 percent (53.8
percent) from the field for the first time this year in sweeping the season series. Jenkins lifted the Pride to another dramatic finish in the first meeting, hitting a five-foot runner for a one-point win at the JMU Convention Center Jan. 24. Hofstra fell one point shy of cracking the 100-point mark for the first time since Feb. 29, 1992 against UMBC.
After 45 minutes of hot shooting, both sides found success behind the arc in the second extra session. Sestokas hit right-wing three-pointer to tie it at 86. But Wells answered right back with a trey of his own from the opposite side. Not to be out-done, Sestokas upped the ante next trip down, knocking down another three to it at 89.
Sesktoaks continued to stay in rhythm, as he hit his third trey just off the top of the key, putting Hofstra ahead, 92-90 to erase Madison’s final lead. Jenkins followed up his veteran teammate’s clutching
shooting by stealing down low and lobbing a home-run pass to Lester, culminating with a layup and a 94-90 lead with 34 seconds left.
The Pride nearly won it in the first overtime. After Hofstra’s first overtime basket, Townes grabbed a rebound on JMU’s next possession, then created space in the paint, and scored down low to put the Pride up, 71-67, with 4:11 remaining in the extra session. His shot prompted the Dukes to call timeout, and JMU Head Coach Matt Brady was hit with a technical foul as the teams went to its respective benches, giving Jenkins the chance to add an extra free throw and extend the lead to five.
But the Dukes had no quit, and Wells’ driving layup with 33 seconds left knotted it at 81 and sent a Pride game into double overtime for the first time since Jan. 3, 2007. Hofstra junior guard Cornelius Vines (Syracuse, NY) had a good look at a winning three-pointer in the closing seconds off a feed from Jenkins, but had it hit off the front rim.
Hofstra was up by as much as eight with 7:49 left in regulation before JMU roared back to take the lead. Curtis Pierre (14 points) harassed the Pride into back-to-back steals, capping a 12-3 run that put the Dukes up
57-56 at the 4:27 mark.
Sesktokas gave a preview of his later heroics, chipping in a pair of clutch second-half three-pointers, including a left-wing trey that hit nothing but net with 4:01 remaining that broke a 57-all deadlock. But the Dukes came back when Kyle Swanston drew a three-point shooting foul and hit all three free throws to tie it at 62 with 2:22 left. Jenkins responded and hit Townes on an inside pass, resulting in a conventional three-point play before Wells answered with a three to tie it 65.
Jenkins hit a running top-of-key jumper with shot clock expiring, 67-65 lead at the 1:16 mark. Wells answered on the next possession, creating his own easy layup opportunity to knot it up.
Hofstra tried to run down the clock before Ben Louis created a held ball situation with 33.4 seconds left to swing possession back to JMU.
Louis nearly topped his defensive play before his left-wing three-pointer hit rim and bounced out with 17 seconds showing on the clock.
Curtis grabbed the rebound and after a timeout, nearly helped the Dukes win in regulation when he fired a pass to Juwann James on the baseline low block. Defensive pressure down low prevented the lay-in attempt at the buzzer sending the game into overtime.
Jenkins’ 13 assists were the most for a Hofstra player since Speedy Claxton had 13 in a win over Stony Brook in the 1998-99 season. The Pride won for the ninth team this season when trailing after halftime.
His 32 points were also just one shy of his career high, set earlier this season at UNC Wilmington. Sestokas broke his previous career high of 18 set against Alaska-Anchorage two seasons ago, while Lester passes his previous high of 21 points set earlier this season, and matched his career high of 11 rebounds, which he set last year against Marist (led by current JMU coach Matt Brady).
After a two-day respite, Hofstra will play its first non-conference game since Dec. 27 when it heads to the Arena at Harbor Yard to play Fairfield in a Bracket Buster game Saturday. Tipoff
is set for 7 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN360.com.