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No. 19 James Madison fends off Louisiana

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Noah Freidel hit a clutch 3-pointer with 47 seconds left as No. 19 James Madison staved off a rally by Louisiana to capture a 68-61 Sun Belt Conference victory Thursday in Lafayette, La.

Freidel, who finished with 11 points and six rebounds, also made a key jumper just inside the 3-point line with 1:50 left as the Dukes (14-0, 2-0 Sun Belt) snapped the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 19-game home winning streak.

Terrence Edwards Jr. delivered 19 points, six rebounds and five assists as James Madison remained one of three undefeated teams in Division I and extended its program-record winning streak to 14 games to open a season.

T.J. Bickerstaff added 14 points and 11 rebounds in helping the Dukes to a 46-31 advantage on the boards.

The Dukes won despite missing 11 straight shots early in the game and also missing 10 in a row late, allowing the Ragin’ Cajuns to rally from a 10-point deficit in the final 8 1/2 minutes.

Kentrell Garnett scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to spearhead the rally by Louisiana (7-7, 0-2).

Kobe Julien supplied 15 points and Hosana Kitenge added 11 points for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Joe Charles pulled down 15 rebounds for Louisiana, which was playing its first home game against a ranked team since 2006.

Down 40-35 in the second half, James Madison went on a decisive 14-point run to take the lead for good.

Bickerstaff triggered the spree with a three-point play. The Boston College transfer added two more buckets in the run, and Xavier Brown finished it off with a 3-pointer that gave the Dukes a 49-40 lead midway through the second half.

Edwards’ 3-pointer with 8:34 left gave James Madison its biggest lead of the second half at 54-44. But then the Dukes missed their next 10 shots.

A 3-pointer by Garnett sliced the deficit to 56-55 with 3:27 left. It was still a one-point game when Julien made two free throws with 2:06 to go. But Freidel answered with his two big jumpers.

In the first half, as James Madison suffered its shooting woes, Louisiana rolled to a 12-4 lead, with Julien draining a 3-pointer and a driving layup.

Bickerstaff ended the dry spell with a pair of fast-break baskets as the Dukes responded with a seven-point spree to cut the deficit to 12-11 with 9:30 left in the half.

It stayed close the rest of the half. A 3-pointer late in the period by Freidel helped the Dukes close to within 23-22 at the break.

A three-point play by Edwards early in the second half gave James Madison its first lead since the opening minute, 31-30.

–Field Level Media

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