Dolphins fall to Belmont on Sea Best Seafood Night
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In front of a season-best crowd of 5,240, the JU men’s basketball team fell behind early, made a strong rally in the second half, but came up short against the Atlantic Sun Conference leader Belmont, 76-70, on Thursday night.

Kerron Johnson scored a game-high tying 15 points, leading four Bruins (21-4, 13-1 A-Sun) in double figures as Belmont knocked off JU for the third straight time.

JU (14-7, 8-4 A-Sun) lost for the first time on Sea Best Seafood Night, despite a team-high 15 points off the bench from Keith McDougald – his second straight team-leading performance.

“Our effort was good in spurts tonight,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We did a good job of contesting shots on the perimeter, but we made too many mistakes and Belmont makes you pay.”

The Dolphins held the normally sharp-shooting Bruins to just 3-of-10 from behind the arc, but Belmont controlled the glass – an area usually dominated by JU. Belmont held a five-rebound advantage and scored 14 second chance points.

While Johnson had the big night for Belmont, he got help from his post players. Mick Hedgepath had 14 points and four rebounds while Scott Saunders had 11 points and 11 boards off the bench.

Belmont turned a nine-point halftime lead quickly into 11, in the opening minutes of the second half only to see JU go on a 15-6 run over the next three minutes to cut the Bruins lead to two, 48-46, on a 3-pointer by Russell Powell.

The Bruins answered back with a 11-2 run, capping the spurt with a 3-point play by Johnson with 8:15 left in the game.

Jacksonville battled back, cutting the deficit to three, 70-67, on a McDougald layup with 1:08 left in the game.

Belmont ended JU’s comeback hopes by hitting all six of its free throws in the final minute to seal the win.

The second half rally was led by strong shooting for JU. The Dolphins hit 16-of-29 from the floor, but were just 9-of-15 from the charity stripe.

Russell Powell had 12 points and three assists while Delwan Graham posted a big all-around night with 10 points, five rebounds, six assists, three blocks and four steals. Ayron Hardy had 10 points and six assists for JU as well.

After falling behind 17-6 in the first eight minutes, JU rallied to cut the deficit to four at 29-25, but Belmont answered with another spurt to take a 36-27 lead at the half.

The Dolphins return to the court on Saturday when they face Lipscomb in Swisher Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 3:15 p.m.