HOFSTRA 69, JAMES MADISON 68
HOFSTRA SEASON RECORDS: 13-7, 5-4 CAA
PLACE IN CAA STANDINGS: tied for 5th
JENKINS SEASON AVERAGES: 17.1 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.6 ast, 3.6 to
Charles Jenkins appears to have returned to his super soph self.
In a game very reminiscent of last season's Colonial Athletic Association contest at James Madison, Hofstra pulled out a dramatic one-point victory over the Dukes in the final seconds.
For the second straight year, Jenkins scored 22 points in Harrisonburg to key a victory. However, unlike a year ago, when Jenkins played the complimentary role to Hofstra's all-time leading scorer, Antoine Agudio, this time, it was Jenkins who scored a game-high and provided the game-winner on Saturday night.
Last year, Hofstra Head Coach Tom Pecora called Jenkins "The Apprentice" as Jenkins learned under Agudio while scoring 15.0 points per game as the CAA Rookie Of The Year. This year, taking on even more of the scoring load, Jenkins is the team's captain, and judging by the endings of Hofstra's last two trips to James Madison, Jenkins seems to have grown nicely into the role once occupied by the player who was once Jenkins' mentor.
On February 16, 2008, Agudio scored the last of his game-high 30 points on a jumper with :09.3 left to give Hofstra an 86-85 win at James Madison.
Similarly on Saturday, it was Jenkins' turn to provide the same type of heroics. With Hofstra down by a point with :12.2 left, Jenkins took the inbounds pass, went the length of the floor, and cut down the left side of the lane. After being cut off, he improvised, spun to his right, into the lane, and put up a tear-drop floater between three JMU defenders. It fell through with :01.9 left, giving Hofstra a 69-68 lead. James Madison then missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer, and Hofstra escaped with an impressive road win, tying James Madison (13-8, 5-4 CAA) for 5th place in the CAA, just a game behind fourth-place Drexel (10-8, 6-3 CAA, winners of 5 straight and 8 of 10 including a two-game sweep of Hofstra).
Suddenly, after struggling to a 2-4 record through the first third of the CAA schedule while Jenkins was mired in a shooting slump, the Pride reaches the halfway point of conference play at 5-4, and winners of three straight and 4 of 6, following a previous stretch of 4 losses in 5 games.
It's no coincidence that Jenkins has scored over 20 points in two of the three most recent wins, against two teams that were in the top four in the CAA. Hofstra is now 7-1 this season when Jenkins scores over 20 points, and 6-6 when he's held under that mark. Although others have been stepping up of late, that's how important Hofstra's leader is to its success.
Jenkins, who was too passive at the start of Hoftra's last game (a home win over conference foe William & Mary), came out firing against JMU, taking 11 of Hofstra's 31 first-half shots, making four, to lead Hofstra with 10 points at the break. That kept the Pride in the game, with Hofstra down just 34-30 at halftime, despite shooting just 39 percent from the floor and committing 8 turnovers.
The Pride torched the nets in the second half, shooting 54 percent, while holding JMU to just 36 percent shooting for the game. Jenkins played a big part, making a very efficient 5 of 8 shots from the field in the second half, finishing 9-for-19, while grabbing 6 rebounds, 3 on the offensive glass (so much for remaining too passive).
Hofstra trailed by as many as eight points in the second half (46-38, with 12:06 left in the game), but Jenkins and the Pride showed nice composure playing in one of the more hostile environments in the CAA. Hofstra assistant coach Van Macon said he and others at the Hofstra bench had a lot of trouble hearing all game long amid 5,023 racous fans at the JMU Convocation Center.
Jenkins grabbed a rebound, went coast-to-coast, made a tough layup, drew a foul, and sank a free throw, to put Hofstra up 50-49, with 9:09 remaining. Later, Jenkins scored the next four Hofstra points to keep the Pride ahead, 58-56, with 5:41 left.
Jenkins' teammates, Cornelius Vines (12 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting), Canarsie High's Nathaniel Lester (11 points, 7 rebounds), and Tony Dennison (9 points) helped Hofstra to a 67-63 lead on a clutch trey by Vines with 1:43 left, but JMU responded with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to lead 68-67, setting the stage for Jenkins' heroics in the game's final moments.
Time will tell if Jenkins' slump is over for good this season, and if he can lead Hofstra to where it would like to go. As of now though, it certainly appears that the Pride is back on track, with its best player once again leading the way.
Hofstra will begin the second half of its CAA schedule at North Carolina-Wilmington (5-16, 2-7 CAA) on Wednesday, Jan. 28th, before a rematch with the first-place, two-time defending CAA regular season champion VCU Rams (15-5, 8-1 CAA) at home, on Saturday, Jan. 31st.