Men's hoops rallies past Mercer in overtime, 101-97

Feb. 16, 2007

Box Score

MACON, Ga. - Jesse Kimbrough scored 21 points, pulled down nine rebounds and dished out 10 assists, including an off-balanced game-tying 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left in regulation, and four points in overtime to lead the Jacksonville men's basketball team to a 101-97 win over Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Conference "Game of the Week" on Friday night.

Kimbrough's epic night was one of many as six Dolphins scored in double figures, led by the third straight career-high outing for Ben Smith - who scored 28 points.

The Dolphins hit a season-high 11 3-pointers, with Smith accounting for six, a new career high. Jacksonville (14-11, 10-5 A-Sun) won its fourth straight game - the longest winning streak of the season for JU. The win also snapped JU's seven-game losing streak at Mercer.

Mercer (12-14, 7-8 A-Sun) got a career-high 39 points from freshman James Florence to lead five Bears in double figures.

"This was a great college basketball game and I'm very thankful for the win," said JU head coach Cliff Warren.

Tyrone Curnell and Corey Claitt had 12 points apiece for JU, with Evan Jefferson getting 11 and 10 coming from Lehmon Colbert.

The balanced scoring was buoyed by strong shooting. JU hit 18-of-32 in the first half, including 7-of-11 from 3-point land. The Dolphins couldn't replicate the strong outside shooting in the second half, hitting just 4-of-17 from 3-point land - but all four came in the final minutes to force overtime.

After trailing by as many as 11 early in the second half, the Bears rallied to take their first lead of the game on back-to-back 3-pointers by Ross Alacqua, going on top 67-66 with 10:40 left in the game.

The Dolphins answered with back-to-back baskets by Jesse Kimbrough to tie the game at 70 with 9:43 left in the game.

Mercer continued to hit from long range and went on a 9-1 run to take a 79-71 lead with 5:51 remaining.

Smith shot the Dolphins back into the game by starting an 8-0 run with two straight treys to cut the Bears lead to two, 83-81 with 3:51 left in the game.

The two teams traded baskets until Mercer scored four straight points to take a 91-85 lead with 1:22 left.

The Dolphins weren't going to go away just yet. Smith hit another two trifectas to cut the deficit back to three, 93-90, with 36 second left.

Lehmon Colbert's attempt to tie the game with nine seconds left was short, but James Florence missed the front end of a 1-and-1 which set up Kimbrough's heroic shot that sent the game into overtime tied at 93.

In the overtime, the Dolphins took control early - scoring the first four points on baskets by Kimbrough and Claitt to take a 97-93 led with 2:51 remaining.

With a three-point lead and just a minute remaining in overtime, Kimbrough hit a pair of free throws to put the Dolphins up by five, 99-94.

Florence came back with his sixth 3-pointer of the night to cut the lead to two, 99-97, with 40 seconds left.

Kimbrough almost became the goat though, turning the ball over with seven second left but was able to get back on defense to force Shaddean Aaron to turn the ball over with four seconds left.

The sixth-year senior would ice the game with a layup as time expired to give the Dolphins their third road win of the season.

Aaron had 22 points and nine rebounds, leading the Bears in rebounding. Brian Pfohl had 14 points, with Sam Dolan and Ross Alacqua getting 10 apiece.

The Dolphins used a sharp-shooting attack to take a 50-41 lead into the locker room at halftime. JU hit seven 3-pointers, three each by Smith and Jefferson, to lead the JU attack.

Jacksonville's hot-shooting gave them an 18-point lead at one point before the Bears rallied in the final minutes of the half to cut the deficit to single-digits.

JU puts its winning streak on the line again on Sunday at Stetson. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m.