Early runs doom JU in 80-64 loss to ETSU
Two big first half runs doomed the JU men’s basketball as ETSU used a big first half to take home an 80-64 win in Atlantic Sun Conference play on Friday night.

The Bucs (18-9, 13-3 A-Sun) got a game-high 23 points from Micah Williams and 21 points from Mike Smith as their starting five scored 76 of their 80 points.

ETSU opened the game on fire, hitting seven of its first eight shots and finished the first half hitting 18-of-33 from the floor (54.5 percent), including 6-of-12 from behind the arc.

“We let them get some easy baskets early and their confidence level went up with each basket,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “Our effort was better in the second half and it showed as we were able to make a run.”

The Bucs opened the game with a 13-2 run in the first four minutes, with Smith scoring nine of those – capping the spurt with a 3-pointer.

JU battled back with a 9-2 run to cut the lead to six, 28-22, on a steal and layup by Ayron Hardy with 8:32 left in the first half.

From there, ETSU took over. The Bucs finished the half with a 23-5 run, including a 16-3 spurt in the final four minutes to take a 51-27 lead into the locker room.

Facing their largest halftime deficit, the Dolphins battled back in the second half. JU cut the lead to 17 in the first five minutes and cut it to 10, 70-60, on a Keion Palmer jumper with 3:09 left in the game.

But there wasn’t enough time left as the ETSU pushed the lead back to 16 and cruised to the win.

JU got 13 points from Keith McDougald, 11 points from Russell Powell, a career-high 10 points and six blocks from Keion Palmer and 10 points and team-high eight rebounds from Hardy.

Jacksonville looks to get back on track starting Sunday as the Dolphins wrap up the road trip at USC Upstate. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.