Balanced attack leads Dolphins past Mercer
JU had four players in double figures and used steady free throw shooting to offset a 31-point performance by Mercer’s Briana Williams to beat the Bears 84-78 in an Atlantic Sun game at the Jacksonville Veterans Arena Saturday.

Cyrstal Bell, with 19 points, Abril Peeples (16), Tracie Sneed (16) and Jade Cargill (14) led JU in what coach Jill Dunn believes is a momentum building win. Sneed also had 10 rebounds to lead JU.

“Definitely,’’ coach Jill Dunn said. “It’s a game we needed to win. Mercer’s not had a great season and we needed this especially after we didn’t perform as well as we should have down the stretch against Kennesaw (a loss earlier in the week). We need to keep doing everything we can to get better and play a complete 40 minutes.''

After trailing at halftime, 36-35, JU (10-18, 8-9) put a vice-like grip on the Bears at a key point in the second half and played off Bell who had 16 of her total in the final 20 minutes.

With JU leading 47-44, Mercer’s Alicia Williams hit a jumper with 13:10 to play and JU held the Bears scoreless for about two minutes as they pulled to a 54-46 lead. The Dolphins had little trouble holding Mercer off the rest of the way.

JU was 30 of 40 from the free-throw line during the game.

“We had our talk at halftime and we were getting beta in a lot of categories,’’ Dunn said. “We talked about our defense and our rebounding and taking care of the ball on offense. Once we got focused and did those things we started playing our basketball.’’

The Dolphins shot to a 13-0 lead before Mercer found the scoreboard. From there, the Bears (4-23, 2-14) worked their way back into the game and tied at 26 when freshman Sharmesia Smith connected with 6:25 to play.

From there, the teams played see-saw with the Dolphins getting help from several players and the Bears riding on Williams’ back. Mercer’s Tabitha Bradshaw hit a pair of free throws with 7.9 seconds to play for a 36-35 lead at the half despite JU holding a huge 22-11 rebounding advantage.

Williams had 10 of her points in the first half while Sneed had 11.

JU ends its regular season against North Florida Saturday at 1 p.m.