Second half surge leads JU past Gardner-Webb

Feb. 2, 2008

Final Stats

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The second half has been good to the JU men's basketball team of late.

Tied at halftime with Gardner-Webb, the Dolphins put together a gutsy defensive performance with a strong team offensive attack to knock off the Bulldogs, 75-62, to remain alone in first place atop the Atlantic Sun Conference.

Ben Smith led four Dolphins in double figures with 21 points, the third time this season that he scored 20 or more in a game this season. Evan Jefferson has 12 points, with Marcus Allen adding 11 points and seven rebounds. Lehmon Colbert added 10 points and six rebounds for JU.

"Once again, our effort was much better in the second half," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "We got out on their shooters and did a good job of executing on offense."

Jacksonville (12-9, 8-1 A-Sun) won its third straight and ninth in the last 10 to setup a matchup with two-time defending league champion Belmont on the road Thursday.

"Belmont is a good team that has good fundamentals and is well coached," Warren said. "They have been the top team in the league the past two years, so our guys know that they have to give a good effort from the opening tip."

The Dolphins team offense concept resulted in 14 assists on 27 baskets, with Colbert leading the team with six assists. JU's offense put together its best-shooting half of the season, going 13-of-22 from the floor (59.1 percent), including 3-of-4 from behind the arc.

With the game tied at 36 three minutes into the second half, the Dolphins went on an 11-3 run over the next five minutes to take a 47-39 lead. Smith capped the run with five straight points, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

After the Bulldogs had cut the lead to four, JU put the game away with a 19-4 run to take a 67-48 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the game. The Dolphins went to their inside attack, scoring 12 points in the paint during that run.

The Bulldogs cut the deficit to 11 with 1:49 left, but could no closer as the Dolphins sealed their third straight win.

Gardner-Webb (10-13, 4-5 A-Sun) was led by Thomas Sanders' 16 points. Nate Blank added 12 and Aaron Linn had 10 with a team-high seven rebounds.

The two teams tangled for the first 20 minutes to tie at 32, with the Dolphins rallying from what once was a seven-point deficit. Smith had eight points in the first half for JU while Blank racked up all of his 12 points for the Bulldogs.