Men's hoops survive in overtime to top Mercer, 96-87

Feb. 21, 2008

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In a see-saw battle, the JU men's basketball team was able to outlast Mercer in overtime to take a 96-87 decision in Atlantic Sun Conference play on Thursday night at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

Six Dolphins (14-11, 10-3 A-Sun) scored in double figures, led by Marcus Allen's 22 points for his sixth 20-plus scoring night in the last eight games. The output was the most points by the Dolphins this season and the first time six JU players scored in double digits since pulling the feat at Mercer at year ago.

In playing its second straight overtime contest, JU was able to put 19 points in the overtime, hitting five of its six shots from the floor.

"This is a building process and we still have a lot to correct," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "We stepped up and made some plays in overtime, but we've got to play with more consistency over 40 minutes."

Allen's big night was aided by four other starters scoring in double figures, with Lehmon Colbert adding his second double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Smith had 16 points and seven assists while committing no turnovers in 41 minutes.

A trio of freshmen put up double figures for JU as well, with Ayron Hardy scoring 13, Travis Cohn with 11 and Aric Brook adding 10.

"We had a lot of people step up and make plays for us, especially off the bench," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "Our young guys hit some big shots and did the things that they are supposed to do when we call their number."

Sporting a 13-point lead with 11 minutes to go, Mercer (11-16, 6-8 A-Sun) went on a 17-3 run over the next five minutes to take a 64-63 lead on a dunk by Calvin Henry.

After tying the game at 65 with 5:49 left, the Dolphins pushed the lead to six, 74-68, on a Cohn dunk with 3:54 remaining in regulation.

But Mercer scored the next six points, the final three coming on a trifecta by James Florence to tie the game with 2:36 left.

A pair of free throws by Cohn gave JU a two-point lead and Evan Jefferson hit 1-of-2 at the stripe to give JU a 77-74 lead with 1:58 left on the clock.

That was enough time for the Bears to send it into overtime as Shaddean Aaron knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:26 left to tie the game at 77. Both teams had chances to win in the final minute, with Smith missing a pair of shots for JU and Florence missing one for the Bears.

In the overtime, the Dolphins took control early and never looked back. JU got the first five points of the extra session and pushed the lead to seven on a 3-point play by Cohn with 2:10 left in the game.

JU eventually compiled an 11-point lead and was able to cruise in the final minute for the win.

Mercer was led by Aaron's game-high 24 points. Henry had a double-double with 18 points and 11 boards while Florence had 16 points, going 7-of-22 from the floor.

Jacksonville used a strong shooting first half, with Brooks knocking home a bank shot at the buzzer, to give the Dolphins a 39-35 lead at the half. JU hit 18-of-32 from the floor en route to the lead at the intermission.

The Dolphins return to the hardwood again on Saturday for the final home game of the season against Kennesaw State, honoring their lone senior - Evan Jefferson. Tipoff for the second half of the doubleheader is expected to be at 3:15 p.m.