Men's hoops advances to semifinals with 65-57 win

March 5, 2008

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - There is an old saying that it is tough to beat a team three times in one season.

That saying never proved to be more true, but the JU men's basketball team was able to withstand a tough test and an off-shooting night to advance to the semifinals of the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament with a 65-57 win over Mercer.

Marcus Allen scored a game-high 19 points and had nine rebounds to lead three Dolphins (17-12) in double figures. Ben Smith added 17 points, four assists and four steals with Aric Brooks coming off the bench to score 12 points, a new season high for the freshman.

"We are thankful and excited to have won today," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "Mercer is a well-coaches team that came out ready to play. We limited their second chance opportunities in the second half, which was critical for us to win."

JU was able to win, despite getting just six points from Lehmon Colbert and a paltry 2-of-19 shooting from behind the arc.

Instead of the 3-point attack, the Dolphins went to the free throw line and hit their shots. JU was 23-of-30 at the stripe, with Smith hitting all 10 of his attempts.

Sporting a six-point lead at halftime, the Dolphins came out of the locker room running - scoring the first eight points of the second half to push their lead to 14, 37-23. Allen capped the run with a back-to-back basket, the last a put back after an Ayron Hardy miss just over three minutes into the final stanza.

The Bears (11-19) answered back with a run of their own, cutting the deficit in half on a layup by James Florence with 13:58 left it the game.

JU pushed the lead back to double figures a minute later as Marcus Allen scored three straight points to give the Dolphins a 41-30 lead with 12:40 remaining in regulation.

Mercer wasn't going to go away easily though, cutting the deficit back to four with 9:36 left in the game courtesy of a pair of Mark Hall free throws.

But Jacksonville was not going to be denied a spot in semifinals, pushing the lead to 11, 50-39, on a 3-pointer by Smith with just over five minutes left in the game.

The Bears made one last run, cutting the deficit to five, but would get no closer as the Dolphins moved into the semifinals.

James Florence led the Bears with 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Mark Hall added 15 points with Shaddean Aaron chipping in with 11.

After struggling to score in the opening minutes, the Dolphins used a 10-0 run midway through the first half en route to a 29-23 lead at halftime.

JU will make its second appearance ever in the A-Sun Tournament semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. (ET) against the winner of Wednesday's Stetson-Gardner-Webb matchup.