Late run thwarts JU upset bid as Dolphins fall to Texas Tech, 69-64
The JU men’s basketball team was just 20 minutes from the NIT quarterfinals, but Texas Tech overcame a sluggish start to thwart the Dolphins bid for a second straight upset, rallying for a 69-64 win at the United Spirit Arena.

With the game tied at 62 with two minutes left in regulation, the Dolphins (20-13) could never regain the lead as Texas Tech hit 5-of-7 at the free throw line in the final minutes to steal the win.

The late rally by the Red Raiders (19-15) ended JU’s Cinderella run that looked even stronger after the Dolphins opened the game on a 16-5 run.

“This group did everything we asked them to this season,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We got some good looks late that didn’t fall. But this doesn’t take anything away from this group accomplished this season.”

Texas Tech dominated JU on the boards, holding a 47-36 advantage, with 18 offensive rebounds. That led to 15 second chance points, which was nine more than JU, a major factor in the final outcome.

Other than rebounds, the stats were pretty close to even. JU hit 25-of-64, getting more shots than Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders were 22-of-59. The difference in scoring came at the free throw line. Tech hit 19-of-29, going 12-of-18 in the second half, while JU was just 10-of-14, hitting all four attempts in the second half.

Ben Smith wrapped up his JU career by scoring a team-high 17 points, hitting 6-of-17 from the floor, but just 1-of-7 from beyond the arc as the Red Raiders keyed their defense on him throughout the game.

Sporting a seven-point halftime lead, JU pushed the lead to nine on the opening possession before Texas Tech went on a 20-6 run – capping it with a Brad Reese 3-pointer to give the Red Raiders their first lead of the game, 48-43, with 12:58 left in regulation.

The Dolphins got down by as many as eight, 56-48, with 8:48 left, but battled back to tie the game at 62 when Smith his a driving layup with 2:11 left in the game.

But JU couldn’t get a shot to fall in the final minutes and Smith, who has made a career out of driving to the basket and drawing fouls, got no whistles as he was bumped, battered and harassed on three shots in the final two minutes.

On the other end, Texas Tech setup shop at the charity stripe and hit 5-of-7 and avoid being the Dolphins second straight upset victim.

Lehmon Colbert had 13 points, with 10 coming in the first half, before fouling out with 6:05 left in regulation. Ayron Hardy scored 12 points, with Tevin Galvin and Glenn Powell leading JU with eight rebounds each.

JU came out scorching, hitting six of its first eight shots to take a 16-5 lead and Hardy’s jumper with 53 seconds left gave the Dolphins a 35-28 lead at halftime.

Texas Tech got a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds from Brad Reese off the bench, leading four Red Raiders in double figures.