MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2009
JU men fall into tie for first with loss to Campbell
The JU men’s basketball team had a hard time holding on to prosperity.

The Dolphins (14-11, 12-4 A-Sun) let sole possession of first place slip through their grasp again on Monday night, dropping an 89-83 decision to Campbell (11-15, 8-9 A-Sun) at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

Campbell’s Lorne Merthie scored a game-high 22 points, hitting 7-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-3 from behind the arc, leading four Camels in double figures.

“I’ve said it from day one, it doesn’t matter whether you are ranked first or last in this league – anyone can beat you on any given night,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We need to play the way JU plays and we didn’t do that tonight.”

All alone in first place for the second time this season, the Dolphins saw Campbell hit 57.1 percent of its shot from the floor in the first half, including 5-of-8 from the 3-point line, in building a 19-point halftime lead.

The Dolphins saw the Camels score the first 10 points of the game en route to building the huge lead before JU finished the half on a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to 19.

The Camels were red hot at the free throw line as well, hitting 26-of-30 from the stripe, including 17-of-20 in the second half. In contrast, JU hit just 15-of-26, including 14-of-24 in the second half.

After pushing the lead to 20 early in the second half, the Dolphins went on an 18-4 run to cut the lead to six on a pair of Marcus Allen free throws just over eight minutes into the second half.

Over the next eight minutes, the Camels were able to extend the lead back to 15 and save a frantic rally in the final moments and Travis Cohn’s 30-footer at the buzzer, the Dolphins were never able to truly get back into the game.

Ben Smith led two Dolphins in double figures with 20 points, 16 of which came in the second half. Cohn was the only other Dolphin in double figures with 11 points.

Kyle Vejraska added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Camels while Jonathan Rodriguez had 17 points and nine rebounds. Chris Reynolds came off the bench with 12 for Campbell.

Back in a tie for first place, this time with Belmont, the Dolphins will put their share of the league lead on the line against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday at 4:15 p.m.