Late run boosts South Carolina to a 97-93 win over JU
After two lackluster outings to start the 2009-10 season, the JU men’s basketball team scared the living daylights out of South Carolina before falling, 97-93, in front of 10,318 at Colonial Life Arena on Friday night.

Devan Downey scored a game-high 34 points for the Gamecocks (5-1), scoring 17 points in the final 5:46 to lead South Carolina’s rally from a 75-74 deficit.

Downey’s effort overshadowed an amazing night for Ben Smith. The JU senior guard scored 31 points, the second highest total of his career, to go along with seven assists, four steals and four rebounds.

“This is how JU basketball plays,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We did a much better job of attacking the basket and executing on offense, while doing some positive things on defense. Our effort was there tonight.”

The Dolphins (0-3) had four players in double figures with Travis Cohn scoring 14, with Ayron Hardy and Tevin Galvin adding 10 each.

Trailing by 11, 64-53, the Dolphins played their best eight minutes of basketball this season to take a 75-74 lead. Hardy tied the game on a layup with 6:43 left and after a Gamecock basket, Cohn stroked a 3-pointer from the win to give JU its first lead since the opening minutes.

The Gamecocks answered by getting the ball to Downey on every possession down the stretch. USC regained control with a 9-1 run over the next two minutes to give the Gamecocks an 83-76 lead.

JU cut into the deficit several times. Smith hit a 29-footer from the top of the key with 54 seconds left to cut it to four. After a Smith steal on the ensuing inbounds, Cohn missed a 3-pointer and the Gamecocks pushed it back to six.

Galvin hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds left to cut it four again, but JU couldn’t get a steal on the inbounds and the Gamecocks were able to seal the game.

Downey led four Gamecocks in double figures, joined by Brandis Raley-Ross with 18, Sam Muldrow with 12 and Ramon Galloway with 10.

South Carolina hit 60 percent of their shots in the first half, but a 6-0 run by the Dolphins to end the half gave the Gamecocks a tenuous 49-43 lead at the half.

JU had its best shooting night of the season, hitting 50 percent from the floor and 7-of-13 from behind the arc. More importantly, JU went to the free throw line 27 times, hitting 24. USC was 35-61 from the floor and 6-of-12 from behind the arc.

The Dolphins have a short rest before their trip to face former Atlantic Sun Conference rival Georgia State on Monday in Atlanta. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.