DAYTON, Ohio -- A.J. Davis, who stepped in as a starter because James Madison's leading scorer was suspended for a half, led the way with 20 points as the Dukes beat LIU Brooklyn 68-55 on Wednesday night in the First Four.
The Dukes (21-14) advance to meet top-seeded Indiana (27-6) on Friday night at the same University of Dayton Arena.
James Madison was without suspended starter Rayshawn Goins for the first half but built a big lead. After the Blackbirds (20-14) battled back to take a brief lead, the Dukes surged again to win going away.
Charles Cooke added 15 points and Andre Nation 14 for the Dukes, who hadn't won an NCAA tournament game since 1983 and hadn't played in the big dance in 19 years.
Jamal Olasewere had 20 points and 10 rebounds and C.J. Garner 16 points for the Blackbirds, who have lost in their first game in each of their six trips to the tournament.
JMU was without Goins, its leading scorer (12.7) and rebounder (7.4) after he was suspended for the first half following a weekend arrest. Police in Harrisonburg, Va., said they were called to break up a party early Sunday morning and Goins was shouting obscenities at them. He was not arrested on site, according to the police, for fear the crowd would "turn riotous."
He was suspended for the opening half by coach Matt Brady on Monday.
After wasting a double-digit first-half lead, the Dukes regrouped. E.J. Reed's two foul shots with 15:02
Devon Moore, who had six assists, scored in transition right through the heart of the lane, Nation hit a follow and Davis took a long pass and popped in the shot off glass for a 45-40 advantage.
Nation then blocked a shot at the other end and tossed a long lead pass to Cooke, who dunked while being fouled. His three-point play made it a 9-0 run for a 48-40 lead with under 12 minutes left.
The Blackbirds never threatened again.
Goins came in early in the second half but appeared out of synch for several minutes. After missing his first three shots badly, he finally got on the board with a muscular move inside on a putback with 7:36 left to push the lead to 56-51. The next trip down the floor, he scored again, this time off a nifty assist pass inside from Ron Curry.
It was not a huge falloff going to Davis in the starting lineup in place of Goins, since Davis was MVP of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament just over a week ago, and came in averaging 20.5 in his last 10 games and 20.7 in the CAA tourney.
Davis, of course, opened the game with a 3 and the Dukes never trailed in the first half. They hit 4 of 8 3-pointers at the outset to build a 20-8 lead in the opening 9 minutes, with Davis matching Brooklyn's output all by himself.
LIU, making its third straight NCAA appearance at Northeast Conference champions, had a hand in its poor start, turning the ball over seven times -- with JMU scoring each time immediately afterward to turn those mistakes into 13 early points that fueled the Dukes' spurt.
The Blackbirds more than held their own inside and on the boards, but missed their first six 3-pointers.
When that statistic changed, so did the game.
Down as many as 12, the Blackbirds closed the half with a 13-2 run to trail 32-31 -- with a go-ahead 3 by Garner disallowed because it came after the buzzer.