Men's hoops uses strong second half to win at South Carolina State, 76-64

Nov. 14, 2007

Box Score

ORANGEBURG, S.C. - A barrage of timely 3-pointers and another stellar defensive effort in the second half led the JU men's basketball team to a hard fought 76-64 win over South Carolina State on Wednesday night.

The Dolphins (2-0), who trailed by one at the half, hit five 3-pointers in the final half - including three in a row at one point to take a 10-point lead that they would not relinquish to get off to the best start since the 2001-02 season.

Ben Smith led all scorers with 22 points, keeping the Dolphins in the game early with 11 points in the first half. He finished the game by hitting 6-of-10 and a perfect 8-of-8 at the free throw line to go along with his six assists and six rebounds.

"We had a good effort in the second half," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "We did a much better job of executing in the second half, especially the final 10 minutes."

The JU defense was the story of the second half, holding the Bulldogs (0-3) to just 28 points in the second half. The Dolphins forced eight turnovers and held S.C. State to just 35.5 percent shooting in the second half from the floor.

"We really stepped our effort on defense," Warren said. "We started to turn it up on defense late in the first half, but we can't come out in the first half slow like this every game."

Lehmon Colbert added 15 points, hitting 5-of-9 from the floor, including three 3-pointers, along with a team-high eight rebounds. Freshman Ayron Hardy finished with 11 points for his first double digit scoring effort of the season.

Leading by three, the Bulldogs tied the game at 49 on an old-fashioned 3-point play by Chris Miller-Williams with 9:53 left in the game.

But the Dolphins answered right back, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers in transition - the first by Colbert and the second by Andre McMillan to give JU a 55-49 lead with 8:18 left in regulation.

Jacksonville continued to pull away from there, extending the lead to as many as 14 by hitting crucial free throws down the stretch. In the second half, JU hit 10-of-13 from the charity stripe.

The Dolphins rally started after giving up the first basket and not scoring for the first three minutes of the second half. JU then scored eight in a row to take its first lead, 41-38, with 16:08 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Smith.

South Carolina State was led by Derrick Davis' 13 points. Miller-Williams was the only other Bulldog in double figures with 11.

The Dolphins got off to a sluggish start for the second straight game, falling behind by as many as nine in the first 10 minutes. JU answered by closing the half on a 7-2 run to cut the deficit to one, 36-35, at the intermission, despite the Dolphins hitting 50 percent of their shots from the floor.

JU returns home on Saturday to face Concordia at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.