Early deficit dooms Dolphins at East Tennessee State

Jan. 14, 2006

Final Stats

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Early deficits have doomed the Jacksonville men's basketball team throughout the season.

On Saturday, the Dolphins fell behind by 17 in the first nine minutes and eventually cut the lead to three but never led in a 98-87 loss to East Tennessee State at the Memorial Center.

Five Buccaneers scored in double figures, led by Tim Smith's 26 points which gives him more than 2,000 in his career. Travis Strong added 21 points, hitting five 3-pointers.

"We fell behind early because we turned the ball over and gave them some easy baskets," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "We were able to get back in the game but we could never get a stop, defensive rebound or good shot when we needed it."

The Dolphins (1-13, 1-6 A-Sun) dropped their 11th straight despite five players scoring in double figures for the first time this season, led by Antonio Cool tying his career-high with 25 points and four assists.

The JU bench scored 39 points, led by a career-high 16 from Evan Jefferson. The Dolphins also got 14 points and nine rebounds from Marcus Allen.

"We've been working with Evan on becoming more of an all-around player on offense because he's a good outside shooter," Warren said. "Now, we just need to get a better effort from our other guys who we expect to produce."

ETSU (7-7, 4-3 A-Sun) shot the lights out, hitting 55 percent from the floor and 18-of-29 (62.1 percent) in the second half. The Bucs also hit 23-of-34 from the free throw line while the Dolphins went to the line just 18 times, hitting 14.

Offensively for JU, the Dolphins had some success, hitting 49.3 percent from the floor and seven 3-pointers, with three each from Cool and Jefferson. The bugaboo for the Dolphins was the 18 turnovers, many of which seemed to come at key times.

Despite falling behind 25-8 early, the Dolphins were able to get back into the game in the first half. JU answered with a 17-3 run of its own to cut the lead to 33-30 with 4:55 left in the first half.

The high scoring circus closed by the Bucs hitting their final six free throws of the half to take a 47-39 lead at the half.

The second half saw the Dolphins try to get the lead early, cutting the lead to four, 57-53, on a layup by Allen with 15:20 left in the game.

The Bucs pushed the lead back to double figures midway through the second half and getting back up to 13 with 4:53 left in the game. JU was able to make one last run, cutting it to eight on a five straight points from Cool but were never able to get close again as ETSU picked up the win.

The Dolphins also got 13 points and six rebounds from Mario Brown and 10 points and five assists from Aubrey Conerly. ETSU got 14 points and eight rebound from Brad Nuckles and 10 points apiece from Andrew Reed and Courtney Pigram.

Jacksonville returns to the hardwood on Monday at A-Sun newcomer and current leader Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.