Jacksonville Collars Runnin' Bulldogs
Ben Smith lit up the scoreboard for a team-high 27 points in the JU win. <br><i>Photo courtesy of ASunPhotos</i>
Ben Smith lit up the scoreboard for a team-high 27 points in the JU win.
Photo courtesy of ASunPhotos

Friday, March 07, 2008

NASHVILLE, Tenn. –-Second-seeded Jacksonville sprinted out to a 16-3 lead, and never looked back as they dropped the No. 6 Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs 89-80 Friday evening in the semifinals of the General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun basketball Championships. The victory sends the Dolphins to their first Atlantic Sun championship game in school history.

Jacksonville (18-12) used a 12-0 run early in the first half to take a 16-3 advantage, and the lead never dwindled below double-digits until Grayson Flittner hit a three-pointer with under a minute to play in the game to pull the Bulldogs within nine.

Lehmon Colbert capped the 12-0 run with a tip-in at the 13:32 mark of the first half, and from there the Dolphins steadily extended their lead. Andre McMillan punctuated the Dolphins' stellar first half with a half-court shot at the buzzer that pushed the Jacksonville lead to 19 at 46-27.

Jacksonville's attacking offensive style induced numerous Gardner-Webb fouls, and the Dolphins converted their free opportunities, as they outscored the Runnin' Bulldogs 33-10 at the charity stripe. Jacksonville finished the evening 33-41 from the line, an 80 percent clip, well-above its season average of 72 percent.

Ben Smith led the Dolphins with 27 points, 13 of them coming from the free throw line on 17 attempts. The inside tandem of Marcus Allen and Colbert chipped in 17 and 19 points, respectively, with Allen adding 11 rebounds for the double-double.

The Dolphins advance to the title game for the first time in school history, and will face the winner of the No. 4 ETSU/No. 1 Belmont game Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. CT. That game will be televised by ESPN2.