Defense leads JU to 60-56 win over Lipscomb
JU head coach Cliff Warren preaches defense on a daily basis to his team. No matter what happens on offense, you can still play good defense.

That defensive effort was on display on Saturday night as JU frustrated Lipscomb with its suffocating D en route to a 60-56 win at Allen Arena.

Ayron Hardy scored a team-high 16 points, leading four Dolphins (10-3, 4-0 A-Sun) in double figures, to become the 28th player in JU history to score 1,000 career points.

The win is the fourth in a row for the Dolphins and sets up a Atlantic Sun Conference showdown for first place on Monday against Belmont (13-3, 5-0 A-Sun).

“We wanted to make sure that it was tough to score on us tonight,” Warren said. “I felt like our guys were locked in mentally and physically to our game plan on defense.”

Jacksonville held the Bisons to just 4-of-20 from behind the arc and 34 percent (18-of-53) from the floor while forcing 19 turnovers. Preseason A-Sun “Player of the Year” Adnan Hodzic scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds – down from his average of 20 points.

The Dolphins also owned the glass, holding a 42-36 edge on the boards, with 16 offensive rebounds – scoring 16 second chance points.

Despite taking a 12-point halftime lead, the Dolphins struggled to start the second half – not scoring for the first six minutes before Delwan Graham’s layup. Lipscomb was unable to make a major move as JU held a 39-29 lead.

The Bisons kept charging and eventually tied the game at 56 with 1:11 left in the game on a pair of free throws by Josh Slater.

Yet the Dolphins were able to find enough in the tank to retake the lead, 57-56, on a Hardy free throw with 48 seconds left.

Clinging to that one point lead, JU got a defensive stop as Slater missed a jumper in the lane and Russell Powell hit one of two free throws with 16 seconds left to make it a 58-56.

With five seconds left, Slater took a three for the win, but Hardy challenged the shot and avoided the foul and Keith McDougald got the rebound and made a pair of free throws to ice the win.

Hardy was joined in double figures by Travis Cohn with 12, six coming early in the second half to keep the Dolphins in the lead. Russell Powell had 10 and McDougald added 10.

JU led 37-25 at the half, its largest halftime lead of the season, by holding Lipscomb to 9-of-28 from the floor while getting to free throw line 12 times and hitting eight.

Other than Hodzic, Slater was the only other Bison in double figures with a game-high 21, with 16 coming in the second half.

Monday’s showdown tips at 8:15 p.m. (EST) at the Curb Events Center.