Men's hoops rallies past Mercer, 87-77

Jan. 18, 2007

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The second 20 minutes of Thursday night's game was a lot different than the first 20 minutes.

Trailing by eight at halftime, the Jacksonville men's basketball team rallied with a near flawless second half to topple Mercer, 87-77, in a key Atlantic Sun Conference game as the Dolphins played their first game at Swisher Gymnasium this season.

Lehmon Colbert led four Dolphins (8-10, 4-4 A-Sun) in double figures with 19 points and nine rebounds. Marcus Allen added 17 points and nine rebounds as well for JU.

"Any win is a good win, especially when you're building a young team like this," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "This was a total team win tonight. Everyone made plays - from taking charges, to free throws, to getting rebounds."

Mercer (8-10, 4-4 A-Sun) held a 48-40 lead at the intermission, but only mustered 29 points in the second half as the Dolphins raced past them in the second half with 47 points.

Colbert led the second half charge with 12 points, hitting two 3-pointers down the stretch that put the Dolphins back in the game.

Aiding Colbert's effort was guard Jesse Kimbrough and Ben Smith. Battling against Mercer's 2-3 zone defense, the backcourt duo had nine points apiece in the second half and combining to dish out five assists.

Those big scoring efforts were keyed by hot shooting. JU hit 15-of-26 form the floor in the second half, going 4-of-10 from beyond the arc.

After Mercer pushed the lead to 11 in the first minute of the second half, JU answered with 12-2 run to cut the deficit to one with just over 13 minutes left in the game.

The Dolphins pulled even for the first time at 57 on a 3-pointer by Corey Claitt with 10:54 left in the game and their first lead since the opening minutes on a layup by Kimbrough with 8:29 left in regulation, 63-61.

After taking the lead, the Dolphins never looked back. JU eventually pushed the lead up to seven, 69-62, capping the run by a fastbreak layup by Colbert.

Mercer cut the deficit to two, 73-71, with three minutes left as James Florence scored seven points during the run to bring the Bears back into the game.

JU wasn't about to give the game back, hitting the boards and their free throws in the final three minutes. The Dolphins made 10-of-11 from the free throw line in the final three minutes to ice the win, while limiting Mercer's second chance opportunities with four big defensive rebounds.

Florence led the Bears with a game-high 28 points, hitting 9-of-21 form the floor and 2-of-8 from 3-point land. Shadean Aaron had 20 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks for the Bears as well.

The win was the seventh straight for the Dolphins at home and moved JU into a three-way tie for fourth place in the A-Sun standings. The win marked the first time in two years that JU had rallied from being down 10 points in a game to win and is the second time the Dolphins have come from behind to win after being down at the half.

Kimbrough finished the game with 15 points, five assists and four steals while Smith had 13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals.

JU returns to the cozy confines of Swisher Gymnasium on Saturday to face in-state rival Stetson. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.