JU comeback falls short at Georgia Tech, 79-76
Trailing Georgia Tech by 24 with 7:24 to go in the game, the JU men’s basketball team had dug a big hole.

But once again, the hole was too deep to climb out of, despite a game-high 30 points from Ben Smith, as the Dolphins fell 79-76 at the Alexander Memorial Coliseum on Friday night.

Smith hit a career-high eight 3-pointers in the game, surpassing his previous high of six. He was 9-of-18 from the floor, hitting 8-of-13 from behind the arc. He also had four assists and four steals.

“Overall, I’m pleased with our effort tonight,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We built a big hole and really turned it on down the stretch to get back into the game.”

Having cut the once 24 point lead down to just three with 13 seconds left, Smith had an open look for a game-tying trifecta, but it bounced around the rim and fell out, allowing the Yellow Jackets (4-0) to breath again.

“Ben had a hot hand and got a good look at a three,” Warren said. “I thought he made it, but it just came out.”

The Dolphins (0-5) lost their fifth straight to open the season despite hitting a season-high 11 3-pointers, almost doubling their total from the first four games (17).

Sporting a five-point halftime lead, the Yellow Jackets scored the first six points of the second half to push the lead to 11 just over a minute into the half.

Georgia Tech slowly built the lead to 24, capping a 13-5 run with a Lance Storrs layup with 7:35 remaining.

Marcus Allen started the comeback with a 3-pointer from the wing, starting an epic run that included four straight 3-pointers by Smith, with the final one with 40 seconds left cutting the lead to three, 77-74.

After Iman Shumpert missed a pair of free throws, Smith came down with an open look that came up short as the Jackets held on for the victory.

Georgia Tech had four players in double figures, led by Alade Aminu’s 19 points. Gani Lawal had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Shumpert had 12 and Storrs had 10.

Jacksonville played a solid first half, but a 13-5 Tech run over the final five minutes of the half sent the Dolphins into the locker room trailing by five, 31-26.

Ayron Hardy had a career-high 14 points, hitting 6-of-9 from the floor.

The Dolphins return home to open Atlantic Sun Conference play on Thursday night against three-time defending champion Belmont. Parking and admission are free courtesy of the MPS Group as they present “A Night at the Arena.” Tipoff of the doubleheader is set for 5 p.m., with the men’s game tentatively schedule for 7:15 p.m.