No. 2 JMU's stingy defense sets sights on Richmond

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No. 2 JMU's stingy defense sets sights on Richmond

Led by a grudging defense and coming off thrilling double-overtime victory, No. 2 James Madison heads to Richmond for an in-state matchup against one of the few teams with a superior head-to-head record against the Dukes.

Sitting alone atop the Colonial Athletic Association standings, the Dukes (5-1, 3-0) nearly lost that lofty perch their last time out but prevailed for a 27-26 win over William and Mary. To remain unbeaten they must go out on Saturday afternoon (3:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) and beat a Spiders (4-3, 2-2) squad that averages a robust 35.3 points per game.

That hasn't always been easy for James Madison, which is on the short end of a 16-13 series matchup, though the teams have split 14 games played at Robins stadium. Last season in Harrisonburg, the Dukes racked up 297 rushing yards and seven quarterback sacks in a 31-7 triumph.

Redshirt junior quarterback Justin Thorpe is responsible for a good chunk of the Dukes running these days - not to mention, duh, winning. The dual threat option leads the team with 394 yards and four touchdowns while tailback Dae'Quan Scott has racked up 334 yards and five touchdowns on the season, including the go-ahead score against the Tribe.

Thorpe also directs a diverse passing attack where 13 players have caught pass, led by tight end Brian Barlow (16-237-1). James Madison has won 14 straight FCS games with Thorpe under center.

Yet it's on the other side of the ball where the Dukes truly make their mark. In five games against FCS programs, JMU has allowed only six touchdowns and an average of 10.6 points per game.

Playing in the Dukes 4-3 scheme, linebacker Stephon Robertson led JMU in tackles in four of six games, tallying a career-high 14 in a win over No. 12 Towson. Up front, Brandon Lee finished with a career-high eight tackles in the win over William and Mary while fellow defensive end Sage Harold had two sacks against Richmond last season.

The Dukes' defense will contend with Richmond's pro-style offense, helmed by senior quarterback John Laub, who ranks second in the CAA passing yards (246) and total offense (296) per game. Junior wide receiver Ben Edwards tops the conference with 51 receptions

Perrantes, No. 19 Virginia roll past Clemson

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Perrantes, No. 19 Virginia roll past Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. -- Virginia's London Perrantes thought about getting to Clemson a little early. After all, who doesn't love a parade?

"I thought that was cool," Perrantes said of the Clemson's football national championship parade and ceremony Saturday morning. "I wish I got to witness that. It was crazy packed coming in here."

Perrantes put on a show of his own in the game, making four 3-pointers and scoring a season-high 25 points to lead the 19th-ranked Cavaliers to a 77-73 victory against the Tigers.

It was the senior's second straight game with 20-plus points after coach Tony Bennett encouraged him to shoot more often.

"He kind of gave me that confidence to go out and play," Perrantes said.

The Cavaliers (13-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) shot 58 percent from the field in their second straight win since dropping two in a row to Pittsburgh and Florida State. Marial Shayok tied his career high with 17 points, and Isaiah Wilkins finished with eight points and 13 rebounds.

Virginia blew a nine-point lead in the second half, but Perrantes stepped up for the Cavaliers down the stretch. After Clemson tied it at 70 on Jaron Blossomgame's three-point play with 2:18 left, Perrantes made his fourth 3-pointer to put Virginia back in front.

Perrantes pushed the lead to 75-70 with another basket with 41 seconds left, prompting many of the fans to head for the exits.

"When we need him the most he shows up," Shayok said. "When he's rolling, everybody's rolling."

It was a festive day at Clemson (11-6, 1-4), with the school holding a big party to celebrate its first national championship in football in 35 years. But the basketball team dropped its fourth straight game since winning nine in a row.

Blossomgame led the Tigers with 22 points, and Avry Holmes and Gabe DeVoe each scored 15.

"This is our fourth league game that's come down to the last minute and we've only won one," said Brad Brownell, Clemson's seventh-year coach. "That's frustrating for all of us."

The Cavaliers shot 10 for 18 on 3-pointers, just the second time this season they finished with double-digit baskets from behind the arc.

Virginia Tech's rally falls short at home against No. 20 Notre Dame

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Virginia Tech's rally falls short at home against No. 20 Notre Dame

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Steve Vasturia and No. 20 Notre Dame are making a habit of playing in close games, and winning them.

The Fighting Irish did it again Saturday, rebounding after blowing all of a 19-point lead to beat Virginia Tech 76-71.

"When you win those type of games, you like those moments and you're not afraid to step up," Vasturia said.

Vasturia scored 20 points and Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson added 14 each for the Fighting Irish (16-2, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who have won their five conference games by a total of 23 points.

More impressively, three of the wins have come on the road.

"That's five games in a row now in league play where we kind of believe when it gets down the stretch, we've been able to get defensive stops -- we did it again tonight -- and then make big-time, fearless offensive plays," Irish coach Mike Brey said.

"I think now it's a psychological advantage because we've closed out so many games, we kind of believe."

Virginia Tech had a 15-game home winning streak snapped.

The Hokies (13-4, 2-3) trailed almost throughout, but went ahead 67-66 on a three-point play by Chris Clarke with 1:52 to play. But Farrell scored on a drive and the Hokies turned it over on consecutive possessions and the Irish converted, rebuilding their lead.

The outcome won't be one to dwell on, Clarke said.

"Just let it sting for a little bit so you learn from it and get ready for the next game or the next practice."

Clark had 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Allen added 16 points and Justin Robinson 14 for the Hokies.

Notre Dame made 14 of its first 20 shots, scoring 17 straight at one point and building a 33-14 lead.