Dolphins survive ice-cold shooting to top UNF, 62-55
The JU men’s basketball team survived its worst shooting night of the season, getting some timely plays and defensive stops late to rally past UNF in the SunTrust River City Rumble at a sold out Swisher Gymnasium, 62-55.

Ben Smith scored a game-high 18 points and Lehmon Colbert record his second straight double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds in leading JU (9-8, 6-3 A-Sun) to its sixth straight win.

Ben Smith

Lehmon Colbert

The Dolphins shot a season-low 27.4 percent from the floor, connecting on 17-of-62 shots. JU was hot at the free throw line, hitting 27-of-33 from the free throw line.

“Whether or not your shots or going in, you can give 100 percent effort on defense,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We did a really good job of crashing the boards and taking advantage of second chance opportunities.”

Those second chance opportunities came often for the Dolphins. JU held a 47-36 edge on the glass and outscored the Ospreys (9-10, 4-5 A-Sun) 19-2 in second chance points.

Trailing by seven, 44-37, with 9:48 left in the game, the Dolphins rattled off nine unanswered points – getting their only 3-pointer of the night from Ayron Hardy, with Smith capping the run with a putback of his own miss to give JU its first lead since midway through the first half.

UNF retook the lead, 47-46, on Jerron Granberry 3-point play with 3:59 left in the game.

With its back against the wall, JU got some big plays from freshman Russell Powell. He opened a 9-0 for JU with a pair of free throws to retake the lead and hit a running jumper in the lane to get the raucous crowd on its feet.

With those four points starting the run, JU’s defensive intensity turned up. Jacksonville forced back-to-back turnovers and a missed shot, converting five of its next six free throw attempts to take a 55-47 lead with 47 seconds left.

JU continued to hit its free throws down the stretch, never letting the Ospreys get any closer than five.

UNF was led by Matt Sauey’s 14 points, with Andy Diaz pulling down a team-high 10 rebounds.

The Dolphins also got 10 points from Travis Cohn, his second straight game in double figures. Ayron Hardy just missed a double-double, scoring nine points and pulling down nine rebounds to go with his team-high four steals.

In the first half, JU tied its worst shooting half of the season, going 9-for-36 (25.0 percent) and did not hit a 3-pointer in a half for the first time this season to fall behind 32-26 at halftime.

The Dolphins return to action on Saturday as they host USC Upstate in Swisher Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 3:15 p.m.