Dolphins pull away from Savannah State to win season opener, 79-63

Nov. 11, 2007

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was far from pretty, but the JU men's basketball team used a strong defensive performance in the second half and a career-high 20 points from Lehmon Colbert in beating Savannah State, 79-63 in the season opener on Sunday at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

Colbert was one of three Dolphins (1-0) in double figures, hitting 7-of-12 from the floor, including two 3-pointers. The sophomore also had seven rebounds, with three coming on the offensive end.

"There's a lot of things we can work on, but this was a good win to start the season," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "I liked our effort at times, but there were times we didn't execute as well as needed."

Joining Colbert in double figures was Ben Smith and Marcus Allen. Smith scored 18 points and dished out nine assists, hitting 14-of-16 from the free throw line - tying for ninth on the school's single-game free throw made list.

Allen added 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds with three of JU's seven blocks.

While those three headlined the scoring effort, all 10 Dolphins that played scored. JU also made its free throws, going 31-of-41 from the charity stripe.

That team effort was emphasized in the second half as JU was able to take the lead early in the second half after entering the intermission tied at 30.

The Dolphins held Savannah State (1-1) to just 8-of-18 from the floor, with the Tigers scoring only 33 points in the second half.

Jacksonville opened the second half by taking an eight-point lead in the first four minutes, 43-35, as the full-court pressure resulted in a turnover and layup for freshman Travis Cohn.

The Tigers got as close as five, 49-44, but the Dolphins kept the pressure on throughout the second half and slowly extended the lead to as many 18 with 3:57 left in the game.

Savannah State was led by Raye Bailey's 13 points. Joseph Flegler had 10 points and Chris Linton had a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Tigers opened the game with a quick burst, scoring the first four points, and pushed the lead to as many as six before JU rallied to take its first lead with 4:43 left in the half.

Jacksonville led by as many as five in the half, but the Tigers scored the final four points of the opening stanza to send the teams into the locker room deadlocked at 30.

The Dolphins hit the road for the first time this season on Wednesday as they face South Carolina State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.