Derrick O'Neil scored 14 points and added 6 rebounds and 6 steals for the Eagles
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The JU men’s basketball team found its rhythm early and often on Saturday as the Dolphins raced by Florida Gulf Coast, 71-53, at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Eagles were led by senior Delvin Franklin, who scored 14 points in his final collegiate game. Derrick O’Neil also added 14 for FGCU. The Dolphins (15-11, 13-4 A-Sun) stayed tied for the lead in the Atlantic Sun Conference, with four players scoring in double figures led by Ben Smith’s 13.
JU led by 11 at the half and pushed the lead to as many as 23 in the second half, cruising to a school-record 13th win in conference play. One key to JU’s victory was their team defense, holding the Eagles to 35.8 percent shooting and just 53 points. The Dolphins controlled the glass as well, holding a 42-35 advantage while scoring 19 second chance points. The defense also forced 23 turnovers and the Dolphins converted those into 30 points.
The Eagles scored the game’s opening basket, led a few minutes later at 4-3, and never was in the game again as JU had a nine-point lead midway through the opening half en route to a 34-23 lead at the intermission. The Dolphins put to bed any hopes of a comeback in the opening five minutes, going on a 10-1 run to push the lead to 20. The lead grew to as many as 23 and the Eagles cut the deficit to 14 with 3:36 left in the game, but were never able to get back into the contest.
The Dolphins (15-11, 13-4) were led by Ben Smith’s 13 points and game-high 5 assists. Ayron Hardy added 10 points and 7 rebounds while Lehmon Colbert chipped in with 10 points and a team-high 8 rebounds.
The Eagles (11-20, 7-13) were led by senior Delvin Franklin’s 14 points; Derrick O’Neil also scored 14 points and added 6 rebounds and a game-high 6 steals. Kyle Marks registered 10 points, a team-high 8 boards, and a game-high 3 blocks.
Although the Eagles failed to win a road game this season, FGCU finished the 2008-09 season with an improvement in total wins and conference wins compared to last season.