Men's hoops survives UNF upset bid, 64-60

Jan. 9, 2007

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville men's basketball team took the lead on the opening possession and survived several runs by North Florida before prevailing at the UNF Arena, 64-60, in Atlantic Sun Conference play Tuesday night.

The Dolphins (7-8, 3-2 A-Sun) won their third straight to end a 24-game losing streak on the road. It was freshman Ben Smith hitting a 3-pointer on the opening possession that set the tone, with senior Jesse Kimbrough finishing it off.

Kimbrough hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down with two minutes to go in leading the JU effort with 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

"This was a good win for us," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "The guys kept their composure late in the game and we hit our free throws down the stretch, which we preach every day in practice."

Kimbrough hit 5-of-9 from the floor and 2-of-4 from behind the arc, the final one squelching UNF's last rally with two minutes left in the game.

Corey Claitt added 10 points six rebounds and three steals to help the Dolphins cause.

After a sporting a five-point lead at the half, JU pushed the lead to double digits early in the second half, pushing the lead to 13, 45-32, on a pair of free throws with just over 12 minutes left in the game.

The Ospreys (2-13, 0-5 A-Sun) ran right back, cutting the lead to five on a 3-pointer by Aaron Caruthers with just over seven minutes to go. The 3-pointer sparked a stretch where Caruthers scored 11 straight points which UNF allowed the Ospreys to continue to cut the deficit, eventually getting it down to one, 52-51, with five minutes remaining.

But the Dolphins answered each UNF run with one of their own. Kimbrough hit a pair of free throws with four minutes to go to push the lead back to three. After a pair of free throws by James Grimball over a two-minute stretch, Kimbrough broke the Ospreys back with a 28-footer as the shot clock expired with two minutes left in the game as JU held a 57-53 lead.

JU put the locks down on defense as the Ospreys failed to score over a minute as the Dolphins knocked down three of four at the free throw line to push the lead to seven, 60-53.

UNF wasn't able to rally, as Germaine Sparkes' 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the final deficit to four.

The second half theatrics were set up by the Dolphins five-point lead at halftime, 31-26, after holding the Ospreys to just four points over the final four minutes.

The Ospreys got 20 points from Caruthers, 16 coming in the second half. Grimball had 15 points and 16 rebounds while Chris Timberlake had 10 points and 11 assists.

The Dolphins continue their three-game road trip on Saturday as they face A-Sun newcomer Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.