Dolphins knock off A-Sun leader ETSU, 74-66

Feb. 8, 2007

Box Score

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville men's basketball team has created some magic in moving Downtown to the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.

The Dolphins (12-11, 8-5 A-Sun) extended their home winning streak to 10 with a 74-66 win over Atlantic Sun Conference leader East Tennessee State at home on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 2,041.

Freshman Ben Smith led the Dolphins with 14 points, while Jesse Kimbrough had 13 points and six assists. Tyrone Curnell came off the bench to score 12 points, pick up four steals and five rebounds.

The Bucs (18-8, 12-2 A-Sun) saw their 10-game winning streak snapped after turning the ball over 27 times with JU converting those into 26 points. ETSU hit just four 3-pointers - with Mike Smith and Courtney Pigram hitting two apiece.

"This was a complete team effort tonight as everyone contributed," said JU head coach Cliff Warren. "We've been preaching that everyone has to chip in for us to be successful and we did that tonight."

After being out muscled in a 71-59 loss at ETSU, the Dolphins battled on the glass, holding a 39-29 advantage in rebounds and limited the Bucs to just four offensive rebounds. ETSU had just two second chance points while the Dolphins racked up 10.

Marcus Allen led JU with nine rebounds while Lehmon Colbert had seven.

"We emphasized to the guys that we had to do a good job of blocking out to limit their second chances," said Warren. "We wanted all five guys to crash the boards tonight and our guards did a good job of staying in and battling for some big rebounds."

Sporting a four-point halftime lead, the Dolphins wasted no time in the second half, pushing the lead to eight, 43-35, in the opening minutes of the final stanza.

The Bucs battled back, slowly whittling the lead away and eventually taking the lead, 50-49, on a layup by Smith with 13:26 left in the game.

Jacksonville kept within striking distance as the Bucs were unable to build upon the lead. ETSU led by two, 55-53, with 10 minutes left in the game after a pair of free throws by Andrew Reed.

The Dolphins remained calm under pressure, taking the lead again on a 3-point play by Colbert for his first points in the game.

ETSU went up by one again, 57-56, after a pair of free throws by Brad Nuckles. But the Dolphins stormed back, going on a 6-0 run to take a 62-57 lead with just over six minutes left in the contest.

The Bucs mounted a rally, cutting the lead to two on three occasions. Each time, the Dolphins had an answer - with Colbert denying the first two attempts with back-to-back buckets.

Leading by two with 59 second left, Smith missed a jumper but Curnell pulled down the rebound, allowing JU to run some more clock. Smith was fouled with 47 seconds left and drained a pair of free throws to put JU up 70-66.

Then the Dolphins took over from there, holding ETSU scoreless over the final 1:29 while JU hit 6-of-6 at the free throw line to ice the win.

Pigram led the Bucs with 23 while Smith had 20 before fouling out.

The Dolphins withstood ETSU's hot shooting in the first half to take a 36-32 lead at the half. The Bucs hit 12-of-23 from the floor (52.2 percent), but Jacksonville forced 16 turnovers and turned that into 15 points to take the lead.

Having won five of their last six games, the Dolphins will put their hot streak on the line again on Saturday on campus in Swisher Gymnasium against Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.