Last week we counted down the Top 10 performances by JMU players during the Matt Brady era. and also the Top 10 performers by opponents in that time.
Today's list covers the Top 10 JMU wins of the past four seasons. The Dukes are 67-67 in that time, so these particular victories represent the top 15 percent.
10. JMU 60, Penn 58 (Nov. 26, 2011): Penn finished outside top 100 in RPI but was a solid team nonetheless, and playing at home at the Palestra. JMU had a short roster but gutted out a defense-inspired road win, with Julius Wells making a game-saving block as time expired. Diminutive guards Humpty Hitchens and Zack Rosen battled back and forth, and while Rosen outscored Hitchens 15-8, Madison had just enough firepower behind A.J. Davis' 19 points and Andrey Semenov's 15.
9. JMU 70, Seton Hall 64 (Dec. 22, 2008): The staff's first win over a name team, this was the game that gave JMU fans hope that Brady would turn around a program that was moribund for most of the decade. Seton Hall finished just 101st in RPI that year, and, in hindsight, the win might not have been that much more impressive than the previous two, when Madison knocked off future pros in Radford's Art Parakhouski and Morehead State's Kenneth Faried.
8. JMU 65, William & Mary 63 (Jan 27, 2010): A home win over William & Mary is typically unremarkable, but this one stands out because of how good W&M was that season. Tony Shaver's crew finished 61st in RPI after losing to North Carolina in the National Invitational Tournament. The Tribe earlier lost to the Dukes when it was ranked 45th. Madison used a zone defense to force W&M into 33 3-point attempts. It made 12 of them, which was one too few.
7. JMU 66, South Florida 61 (Dec 18, 2010): USF finished only 159th in RPI, but for JMU this was a win at a Big East school. USF boasted considerable size in the post, but Bowles relied on his unblockable, over-the-left-shoulder baby-hook to carry Dukes down the stretch, scoring a game-high 24 points. Devon Moore chipped in with 14 and the Dukes finished the night on a decisive 15-5 run. They joyously chanted in the visitors' locker room after the game, proud to beat a team from the best conference in the land.
6. JMU 60, Kent State 51 (Dec. 31, 2010): Kent State won 24 games and reached the NIT quarterfinals that season, but couldn't win on its home floor against the Dukes, who used defense to carry themselves to a New Year's Eve victory. JMU went on a 16-2 run in the second half, ending the Golden Flash's 15-game home winning streak. Rayshawn Goins, one of several Ohio players returning home, had 14 points and 13 rebounds to help Madison improve to 10-3. It was the fourth of nine straight wins for JMU.
5. JMU 70, Old Dominion 62 (Jan. 7, 2009): The Monarchs finished 78th in RPI and eventually won the College Insider's Tournament, beating JMU along the way. But on this night, Juwann James was the star in an unexpected win, scoring 23 points (19 in the first half) and grabbing seven rebounds against ODU's deep, tall and talented front line. JMU is 0-8 against Old Dominion since this night.
4. JMU 76, VCU 71 (Feb. 13, 2010): It was a dismal season for the injury-prone Dukes, but this will go down as a highlight. The Rams finished the season with the 46th best RPI after eventually winning the College Basketball Insiders tournament, but on a Saturday evening in Harrisonburg, JMU was the better team. With Wizards and Celtics scouts in attendance to watch eventual first-round pick Larry Sanders, Bowles scored a game-high 21 points, and offered one of the best quotes (unofficially) in JMU history: "I'm hitting jumpers, pull-ups - I don't know what happened tonight. I was excited to play against him, because there was a lot of money in the gym." The Dukes held on despite Bowles fouling out with just under eight minutes to play.
3. JMU 65, Princeton 64: (Nov 22, 2010): To fully appreciate this JMU win, you have to look at what Princeton did after it lost. The Tigers won 9 of next 10 games, won the Ivy league and played Kentucky (a Final Four participant) tough in the first full round of the NCAA Tournament, finishing 45th in RPI. Madison trailed by as many as 20 points, but Bowles' 29 points helped it come back. More impressive was JMU's defense, which held Princeton to 17 second-half points. "In all my years, holding an NCAA tournament team to three baskets in the second half, that was as good a defensive performance as I've been around," Brady said recently.
2. JMU 72, VCU 69 (Feb 26, 2011): This was VCU's fourth loss in five games, but you could say the team turned it around in March, when it won seven of its next eight (all in do-or-die tournament situations) to reach the Final Four. The Dukes can always say they went on the road to beat a Final Four team - on the Rams' senior night, nonetheless. After Moore scored nine of JMU's final 15 points, VCU guard Brandon Rozzell's corner 3 rimmed out at the buzzer, putting both teams at a 21-10 record. Moore, who had 18 points, five assists and four rebounds, called the game a confidence boost, but in its next game, Madison, a six-seed, was upset in the first round of the CAA tournament by William & Mary.
1. JMU 68, George Mason 66 (Feb. 7, 2009): As Patriots forward Ryan Pearson's desperation half-court heave crashed into the backboard for a miss, the 5,470 in attendance at the Convocation center went bonkers, with a hoard rushing the floor. Kyle Swanston, who scored a game-high 19 points, raised his arms and screamed as fans surrounded him and the Dukes snapped a 10-game losing streak to George Mason and ensured they would not finish below .500 for the ninth straight year. It was against a quality opponent too: Mason finished 51 in RPI and reached the NIT that year. A year after Mason's Dre Smith made a Convo record 10 of 10 3-point tries, Madison held him to just five points on 1-of-7 shooting from the floor. JMU finally felt involved in the mix. "Like Coach said, a rivalry doesn't start unless the other team wins," Swanston said after the game.