Men's hoops win home opener at the Arena, 77-73

Nov. 14, 2006

Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JU head basketball coach Cliff Warren can get a good night's rest on Tuesday.

The Dolphins head man saw his team end a 25-game losing streak with a 77-73 win over St. Leo as JU started a new era with its first home game Downtown at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

In front of crowd of 1,825, sophomore Marcus Allen led the three Dolphins in double figures with 20 points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Allen's strong play inside helped the Dolphins rack up 44 points in the paint while limiting the Lions to just 24.

"Anytime you can get a win, it's a good night," Warren said. "We're going in the right direction, we've just got to play with confidence and a fearless attitude."

JU (1-1) thwarted the Lions (0-3) comeback bid with some solid play in the final two minutes.

Saint Leo's Quinton Cullop hit a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining to tie the game at 73, after JU had built up a 16-point lead earlier in the second half.

But JU was not to be denied the win. Allen missed a jumper but put back his miss to give JU a two-point lead.

After a missed 3-pointer by Cullop, Jesse Kimbrough iced the game with a pair of free throws with 20 seconds left to provide the final margin.

St. Leo's comeback was greatly aided by the Dolphins struggling at the free throw line. JU hit just 6-of-19 from the charity strip in the second half.

"We got a little tentative late in the game and then we couldn't hit our free throws," Warren said. "We're going to be shooting a lot of free throws in practice tomorrow, that I can promise you."

The Dolphins got 16 from Kimbrough and 11 more from freshman Ben Smith, scoring double figures in just his second career outing.

"We've got a lot of young players who are seeing a lot of minutes," Warren said. "Tonight we finished the game with three freshmen on the floor. They are learning as they go and tonight they learned a lesson on how to finish games."

JU's defense was stingy, forcing 20 turnovers and converting them into 19 points. The Dolphins had 11 steals, four of which were by Kimbrough.

St. Leo was led by Richard Blue's 19 points, while Jordan Prais had 16 and Cullop had 14.

The Dolphins return to action on Thursday as they hit the road to face the defending national champions. Tipoff against the top-ranked Gators is set for 7 p.m.