WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17, 2010
BANK OPEN LATE: Smith’s shot stuns Arizona State, 67-66
This shot sends JU into the second round of the NIT
This shot sends JU into the second round of the NIT
Ben Smith’s banked in 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds left in regulation capped an epic 18-6 run in the final four minutes as the JU men’s basketball team upset top-seeded Arizona State, 67-66, in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.

“It felt good when it left my hand, but I didn’t intend for it to bank,” Smith said. “My teammates gave everything in those last four minutes and we just didn’t want to lose.”

Trailing 60-49 with 3:33 left, Smith saved his best for last, scoring of 12 of his game-high 26 in those final minutes – capping the run with the second game winner of his career.

“He’s been doing it for four years,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “Our guys just never gave up late in the game. We kept battling, got some stops and then took advantage of our opportunity.”

The Dolphins (20-11) get their first postseason win since 1974 and their first win over a BCS school since 1994, snapping a 41-game losing streak. It also gives JU its first 20-win season since 1986.

“This is a big win for our program and where we want to go,” Warren said.

Sporting a four-point halftime lead, the Sun Devils (22-11) pushed the lead to nine in the opening minutes of the second half and eventually built an 11-point lead on an Eric Boateng jumper with 13:06 left in the game.

The Dolphins just kept hanging around and hanging around, avoiding the Arizona State backbreaking 3-pointer after seeing them hit nine 3-pointers in the game.

After a Jamelle McMillan layup with 3:59 left, the Sun Devils were up 60-49. And then the Dolphins showed up.

Lehmon Colbert, who finished with a double-double – scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, hit a jumper in the lane to cut the deficit to nine.

With Boateng missing the front end of a 1-and-1, Smith drilled a 3-pointer to cut the lead to six with 2:57 remaining. Another JU stop led to a pair of Smith free throws with 2:04 left and the Dolphins were back in the game, down four, 60-56.

Rihards Kuksiks hit two free throws, but Smith answered with fadeaway jumper to pull the Dolphins back within four with 1:06 left.

A steal out of the timeout led to a Smith jumper and the Dolphins were within two.

McMillan hit three out of four free throws on the next two possessions to give ASU a 5-point lead with 20 seconds left.

The Dolphins got a layup from Ayron Hardy, a steal from Smith and a pair of Chris Edwards to pull within one, 65-64, with 10 seconds left.

Derek Glasser made one of two at the free throw line, setting up Smith’s heroic shot.

ASU had four players in double figures, led by Kuksiks 21 points, hitting five 3-pointers.

Smith started the game frigid, hitting just 1-of-8 from the floor in the first half en route to just three points. Despite his slow start, the Dolphins went into the locker room at halftime just down four, 28-24.

Hardy added 11 points and eight rebounds in JU’s upset win.

The Dolphins will now face Texas Tech, the date will be determined later this week. Stay tuned to JUDolphins.com for the date.