Late hot streak leads JU past FGCU, 68-62
After a rough start, the JU men’s basketball team came alive late to survive Florida Gulf Coast’s upset bid on Thursday night for a 68-62 win to pull into a first place tie with Belmont atop the Atlantic Sun Conference standings.

The Dolphins (14-10, 10-5 A-Sun) got a game-high 24 points from Ben Smith, moving into third place on the school’s all-time scoring list, passing Artemus McClary. The senior connected on 5-of-9 from behind the arc, with three coming in the second half to spark JU’s rally.

Clinging to a four-point lead with 11 seconds left, Lehmon Colbert picked off a Chad Lutkenhaus pass to clinch the Dolphins win to snap a two-game losing streak.

Jacksonville trailed by three at the half and by as many as four in the second half, with the score being tied 15 times during the game to go along with 13 lead changes.

“Our defense executed down the stretch and we were able to get some big stops,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We got hot down the stretch when we executed on offense to get good looks.”

With six minutes left in the game, JU trailed 52-51 after an Anthony Banks jumper put the Eagles back on top for the last time. The Dolphins answered with a Travis Cohn 3-pointer, the second straight trey for JU, starting the final push for the win.

Over those final six minutes, JU never relinquished the lead and FGCU never had a possession to tie the game as the Dolphins were able to keep the lead at two possessions throughout the final minutes.

Aiding that effort was key offensive rebounds. Ayron Hardy got one of his six boards after a missed 3-pointer by Smith with just over a minute to go. Tevin Galvin got his own rebound after a missed 3-pointer with under 30 seconds left, which forced the Eagles to foul – sending Russell Powell to the line where he two free throws to ice the game.

Hardy was the only other Dolphin in double figures with 11 points and his team-high six rebounds. Smith had four assists and five steals to go with his big scoring night.

JU hit eight 3-pointers in the game, the highest total since hitting eight against Kennesaw State back on Jan. 4.

Sherwood Brown’s 3-pointer with three seconds left gave the Eagles a 31-28 lead going into the locker room at halftime as FGCU hit 54.2 percent of its shots from the floor.

Banks led the Eagles with 24 points while Brown added 10 points a game-high seven rebounds. Eddie Murray added 10 points off the bench.

The Dolphins will put their share of first place on the line on Saturday as they host Stetson at 3:15 p.m. JU will honor the 1970 national runner-up team at halftime of the game, following Friday night’s Basketball Reunion at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.