JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was a night to remember for Marcellous Bell on Tuesday. Making his first start for the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team, the sophomore guard matched a career high with 17 points, knocking down 4-of-7 from behind the arc, in leading the Dolphins to an 88-75 victory over Trinity Baptist at Swisher Gym.
As Jacksonville struggled for offense in the early stages of the game, Bell was there to step up and help his team keep pace with an Eagles team ready to prove they belonged on the same court as their Division I opposition. A pair of in-rhythm 3-pointers in the first three minutes kept the game close despite the fact that another Dolphin didn’t crack the scoring column until nearly six minutes had elapsed.
Trinity Baptist would take its largest lead of the contest at 15-10 after Tyrell Johnson connected on a 3-pointer, but Jacksonville finally put its foot on the gas with a 13-0 run to take a 23-15 lead. Tyler Alderman started it with a layup, then Keith McDougald tied it with three free throws after being fouled behind the arc. The next time down, Bell drove in and floated in a shot amongst the trees while being fouled, hitting the free throw to give the Dolphins a lead they would hold the rest of the way. McDougald and Vince Martin added buckets before the Eagles could end the Jacksonville onslaught.
The Jacksonville lead reached double-digits for the first time after intense inbounds pressure forced a bad pass from Trinity Baptist with three minutes until halftime. McDougald hit his first 3-pointer of the season on the next JU possession to give the Dolphins a 38-27 advantage and JU would carry that 11-point lead into the break, 41-30.
Trinity Baptist showed its resolve early on the second half, trimming the Jacksonville lead to as little as eight on three occasions, but slowly the Dolphins began to assert control. After James Warrick scored inside to cut Jacksonville’s lead to 50-42, JU responded with an 8-1 run to take its biggest lead of the night up to that point at 58-43. The run was punctuated by an old-fashioned three-point play courtesy of Sam Hunt.
Though too far behind to make a push for the upset, Trinity Baptist continued to stay well-disciplined throughout the late stages of the contest and never let the lead grow above 18 points. The Eagles actually had the Jacksonville lead down to 10 with just over a minute remaining, but Hunt and Josh Murray took care of business at the charity stripe, knocking down all six attempts at the end to seal the win for the Dolphins.
In the end, Hunt’s 10-of-11 performance from the line gave him game-high honors with 19 points, a career high. J.R. Holder also set a new personal points record with 13. Martin logged 27 minutes of action from his guard spot and ended the night with eight points, six assists and three steals. Alderman had a big night in the paint, tallying career highs of 10 rebounds and five blocks to go along with seven points.
Jacksonville now plays just two games in the next 14 days as the team enters its final exam period. The Dolphins begin the road swing on Saturday at Florida Atlantic at 3 p.m.
- Jacksonville improves to 2-0 at Swisher Gym this year, while Cliff Warren moves to 8-0 all-time against non-Division I opponents.
- Tuesday night’s game marked the first career starts for Marcellous Bell and Marcel White.
- Josh Murray made his first career appearance in a JU uniform. He ended the night with two points, six rebounds, two blocks and two assists in 13 minutes.
- Tyler Alderman had new career highs with 10 rebounds and five blocks. The 10 boards shattered his previous high of six that he had set four times, including twice earlier this season. The sophomore’s previous blocks record was four, set most recently against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 16.
- Jacksonville hit on 28-of-33 free throws on the night. The .848 percentage was the best single-game performance for a JU team since the Dolphins made 7-of-8 (.875) on Dec. 31, 2012 in a win over Northern Kentucky. Digging a little deeper, you would have to go back to a win over North Florida on Feb. 8, 2011 to find a contest in which the Dolphins made at least 25 free throws and shot better from the stripe. In that victory against the Ospreys, Jacksonville went 26-for-29 (.897).
- The bench has continued to produce big numbers for Jacksonville early on. The Dolphins got 44 points from their reserves on Tuesday, already the third time this season that the team has reached at least that number. A year ago, JU had three games in the entire season in which the bench scored at least 40 points, and the season high was 41 in a game at South Carolina.
- Sam Hunt became the fifth Dolphin to lead the team in scoring in a game this season after putting 19 on the board. On the glass, Alderman’s 10 rebounds made him the sixth member of the squad to top the single-game charts.
- Trinity Baptist put up 76 field goal attempts on the night. That’s just one off the most-ever shots attempted against a Cliff Warren-led team. Georgia Southern shot 77 field goals against JU on Dec. 29, 2005. The Eagles also tied for the most 3-point field goals attempted in the Warren Era, shooting 33 times from behind the arc on the night. That places them alongside Lipscomb, who put up the same number on Feb. 11, 2006.