SATURDAY, MARCH 05, 2005
Fourth-seeded JU Falls To No. 1 Gardner-Webb, 77-76, In A-Sun Semifinals
March 4, 2005
NASHVILE, Tenn. - Junior Aubrey Conerly's potential game-tying three-pointer with one second to play bounced off the back of the rim and Jesse Kimbrough's put-back at the buzzer wasn't enough as No. 4 JU's upset attempt of top-seeded Gardner-Webb fell just short and the Bulldogs held on for a 77-76 win over the Dolphins Friday night in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship at the Curb Event Center in Nashville. JU, which was making its first semifinal postseason appearance in nine years, trailed by three with six seconds to play. The Dolphins, who won 10 of their last 15 A-Sun games to place fourth in the league standings, finish the season 16-13 after going 1-1 in the A-Sun Tourney.
Chris Gash hit 1-of-2 from the line with 17 seconds to play to give Gardner-Webb a 75-72 lead. Conerly answered with a quick lay-up and then the Dolphins fouled Bulldog point guard T.J. McCullough, who hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three with 6.6 seconds remaining. Conerly took the ball the length of the court and pulled up for a 20-footer from the top of the key, which bounced off the back of the rim and nearly dropped back through the hoop. Kimbrough tipped it in at the buzzer. McCullough, who finished with 14 points and nine assists, hit 8-of-8 free throws in the game.
Kimbrough finished with 16 points, five rebounds and three steals, while Haminn Quaintance added 16 points, nine rebounds, five assists, five steals and three blocks. JU shot 51 percent from the floor, but had no answer for Gardner-Webb center Simon Conn, who finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds. The Bulldogs out-rebounded JU, 42-27, including 23-11 in the second half and scored 13 second-chance points in the after intermission. The Dolphins' man-to-man defense forced 21 turnovers and JU had a season-high 15 steals. The Dolphins also limited Gardner-Webb to 6-of-21 shooting from three-point range.
JU trailed 58-48 with 8:19 remaining in the game following a technical foul by head coach Hugh Durham. The Dolphins responded with a 14-4 run to tie the game at 62-62 with 4:59 to play. Senior guard David Lee hit a three-pointer and a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to four, but McCullough hit a pair of free throws to push the lead back to six. Quaintance took over from there, scoring six straight points to get the Dolphins even. Gardner-Webb regained the lead until Antonio Cool drained a three from the corner to tie the game again at 70-70 with 2:01 to play. Conn scored on a put-back and McCullough hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 74-70 lead with 43 seconds remaining.
The Dolphins led 37-34 at the half, but Gardner-Webb opened the second half on a 20-7 run thanks to eight points from Conn and took a 54-44 lead at the 11:37 mark. Conn had 18 points and nine rebounds in the second half and hit 11-of-15 shots from the field in the game. Mccullough and Gash each added 14, while Brian Bender scored 12 for GWU. Conerly had 14 points for JU.
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