I traveled to Philadelphia on Black Friday to check out the Philly Hoop Group Tripleheader. For someone who likes basketball and really doesn't care who is playing it was quite the experience. Three games between some regional teams in the home of college basketball, The Palestra.
The day was a nice fall day and we arrived in time to take in a little bit of the Penn campus, which intertwines with the City of Philadelphia. We headed to the Penn bookstore to pick up some merchandise and gifts. Afterall, Black Friday required some shopping. We quickly realized we truly were in the Ivy League. We entered the bookstore and there were books. Of course it made sense, but it was completely unexpected based upon my journeys to other college bookstores.
So we got to the Palestra. And if you are a college basketball fan and have never been there, you need to go. The place just oozes history. The Big 5 Hall of Fame, as well as tributes to the players who have played their line the walls. Just well worth the trip and I'm glad I made it.
From the very start of the game it became obvious that the game was going to be action packed and a fun one to watch. Rider streaked to an early lead, which included the Broncs drawing two early fouls on JMU starting center Trevon Flores in the first minute of the game. I bring that up now because Flores was immediately pulled and never returned. I found that rather odd. So it makes my recap.
Some incredibly hot shooting from the Dukes they made their first six three pointers gave them an early lead. The margin got as large as 11 in the first half as Humpty Hitchens and AJ Davis nearly shot the lights out of the buliding. As the first half drew to a conclusion if felt as if Madison should have a double digit lead. But to the credit of the Broncs, they had survived the Madison barrage. A 9-2 Rider run over the final 2:04 of the half, somehow miraculously drew Rider even at the intermission.
I'll be honest my thoughts on the game at the halftime intermission were that JMU had wasted the hot shooting first half and would have difficulty winning the game. I always think that when a team controls a half they better take advantage on the scoreboard. JMU had controlled the first half, but Jon Thompson and Brandon Penn had spoiled that and it seemed as if the second half was likely to belong to Rider.
I couldn't have been wrong. The Dukes never stopped missing shots. Within 3 minutes of the start of the second half the lead was built back to 8. Andrey Semenov and Davis hit back-to-back three-pointers near the 11 minute mark to make it 63-49. The only question that remained was whether or not the Broncs would be able to find another rally in themselves. The answere was no.
By the five minute mark, Rider had essentially waved the white flag. For the game Madison shot 15-of-21 from behind the arc and nearly 56% from the floor overall. Davis led the winners with 29 points, including an astounding 8-of-9 from three point land.
The performance was just a truly great offensive effort from both Davis and the Dukes. I'm not sure they'll ever shoot it like that again, but the effort on a Black Friday afternoon at the Palestra was a joy to witness.
JAMES MADISON 86, RIDER 69 11/25/2011
JAMES MADISON 2-2 (0-0) -- H. Hitchens 6-10 2-2 16; A. Davis 8-15 5-6 29; J. Wells 4-8 0-0 10; A. Semenov 6-9 1-2 15; A. Diouf 1-2 1-1 3; E. Hood 1-3 1-2 3; A. Marks 1-3 2-2 5; G. Swindle 2-2 1-4 5; C. Pierce 0-0 0-0 0; T. Flores 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29-52 13-19 86. RIDER 1-5 (0-0) -- D. Stewart 4-8 3-7 11; J. Jones 1-5 4-4 6; J. Thompson 5-8 0-0 13; A. Myles 1-5 0-2 3; N. Gadson 3-5 3-6 10; B. Penn 7-14 3-4 21; E. Mitchell 1-4 0-0 2; D. Nd-Ezuma 0-0 0-2 0; C. Oliver 0-1 1-2 1; T. Pereira 1-1 0-0 2; E. Bursis 0-0 0-0 0; K. Noon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-52 14-27 69.
Three-point goals: JMU 15-21 (A. Semenov 2-4; J. Wells 2-3; A. Davis 8-9; A. Hitchens 2-4; A. Marks 1-1), RID 9-21 (J. Jones 0-2; B. Penn 4-6; N. Gadson 1-2; J. Thompson 3-4; A. Myles 1-4; E. Mitchell 0-2; K. Noon 0-1); Rebounds: JMU 32 (A. Semenov 7), RID 27 (D. Stewart 11); Assists: JMU 21 (A. Hitchens 9), RID 17 (J. Thompson 8); Total Fouls -- JMU 24, RID 16; Fouled Out: JMU-A. Diouf; RID-None.