JU men top Mercer to stay in first, 76-64
Ben Smith scored a game-high 26 points to lead the JU men’s basketball team to a 76-64 win over Mercer to keep its share of first place in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Smith hit just 5-of-12 from the floor, but hit two big 3-pointers in the second half and was 14-of-17 at the free throw line while dishing out four assists to along with three steals. His performance at the free throw line moved him into first place on the JU all-time free throws list, surpassing Ralph Tiner’s record of 555.

The Dolphins (17-10, 13-5 A-Sun) now face fellow A-Sun co-leader Campbell at home on Thursday for the annual MPS Group Night – with free admission to everyone.

“We continue to get contributions from everyone which is critical to us winning,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We had nine people with rebounds and did a good job of getting out on their shooters.”

After seeing Mercer (14-14, 10-8 A-Sun) cut a 10-point lead down to one with 9:17 left in the game, the Dolphins went on a 12-3 run to push the lead back to 10 – with Smith hitting a big 3-pointer midway through the run and a pair of free throws to finish the spurt.

Jeff Smith, the hero of the first game in Jacksonville, hit a 3-pointer with 3:01 to pull the Bears back within three, 69-58

Jacksonville came right back with eight straight points to put the game away, with JU’s Smith answering right back with a 28 footer for three that gave the Dolphins momentum back.

JU finished the game off by not letting the Bears get any open looks from beyond the arc late to finish off the win.

The foul marred contest saw the Bears whistled for 30 fouls, with JU hitting 32 of 44 at the free throw line.

Ayron Hardy had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks while Lehmon Colbert had 12 points and seven rebounds in front of more than 100 friends and family from his hometown.

JU used a 13-3 run over the last seven minutes of the first half, with Travis Cohn hitting a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left, to give the Dolphins a 31-25 lead at halftime.

Mercer got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Daniel Emerson with E.J. Kusnyer adding 12 points and Smith chipping in with 11.