Men's hoops survives to top Kennesaw State, 84-79

Feb. 23, 2008

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Ben Smith scored a game-high 24 points as the JU men's basketball survived a late scare in the second half to top Kennesaw State in Atlantic Sun Conference play on Saturday, 84-79.

Smith was one of four Dolphins in double figures, joined by Marcus Allen who recorded his second double-double in the last three games with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

JU (15-11, 11-3 A-Sun) led by as many as 20 in the second half, but saw KSU (9-20, 6-10 A-Sun) cut the deficit to one in the final three minutes before a late surge secured the win.

The win clinches the Dolphins second straight winning season, just the fourth time in the last 20 years that JU has put together back-to-back winning campaigns.

"We did a lot of things right to start the second half, but we got away from that in the final 10 minutes," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "There are a lot of things for us to work on as we hit the final week of the regular season as we need to keep improving each day."

Kennesaw State had three players finish in double figures, led by Ronell Wooten's 22. Shaun Stegall had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds while Kelvin McConnell added 14.

With the game tied at 40 at the half, JU came out hot to start the second half, out scoring Kennesaw 19-4 in the first seven minutes of the half to take a 59-44 lead with just over 12 minutes left in the game.

The Dolphins pushed the lead to 20 a few minutes later, 66-46, on a pair of free throws by Lehmon Colbert.

The Owls would not go away, going on a 20-5 run to cut the deficit to five, 71-66, with just over six minutes left in regulation. Wooten hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark the run before fouling out with 8:12 left in the game.

KSU kept the pressure on the Dolphins in the closing minutes, cutting the deficit to one, 76-75, on Stegall jumper with 2:31 left in the second stanza.

The Dolphins were not to be undaunted though, scoring four straight to push the lead back to five and would not let the Owls back in the game to seal the 84-79 win.

Colbert had 14 points and seven rebounds for JU, while Ayron Hardy had 12 points and nine boards in helping JU to its third straight win.

In a see-saw first half, JU built a seven-point lead at one point but Kennesaw State fought back to send the teams into the intermission tied at 40.

The Dolphins wrap up the regular season with a two-game road trip against in-state foes Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson. JU opens the trip on Thursday at FGCU in the second half of a doubleheader at 7 p.m.