Jacksonville Sports Day

JU: Barnes, Bell Guide Dolphins to ASUN Victory

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville University men’s basketball team (8-9, 1-1 ASUN) opened up its ASUN home slate with a decisive, 68-52, victory over NJIT (3-12, 0-2 ASUN) on the strength of a career-high 25 points from Destin Barnes.

The Dolphins shot 48.2 percent from the floor (27-56) and all three made triples came out of the hands of Barnes whose 25 points are a career best at any level, including junior college. Barnes (Hodges Mazda Player of the Game) was hot from the start, scoring 15 of his game-high point total in the first half. He was 6-8 from the floor in that first half across 17 minutes of court time to help his team build a nine-point advantage at the break.

David Bell returned to form, scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 boards to secure his seventh double-double of the season. He ended up 7-11 from the floor and knocked down four free throws to boost his effort. Mo Arnold came off the bench for seven points, three boards and three assists with Bryce Workman chipping in six off the pine as well.

NJIT seemed contest to hoist triples all night, attempting 22 of them while the Dolphins were outscoring the visiting side, 42-14, in the paint. Jacksonville handed out 11 against 11 turnovers and held the lead for over 32 minutes despite six lead changes in the game.

The Dolphins trailed by as many as five in the early going, falling back 14-9, following an NJIT triple. Barnes settled things down on the other end with one of his three deep balls which started a run that had the two sides trading leads until a Barnes runner at the 6:12 mark in the first half put JU ahead for good.

Arnold knocked down a jumper in the lane to push the Dolphins ahead by eight with 1:12 to go and Aamahne Santos canned a free throw to give JU its nine-point lead at the half.

Jacksonville didn’t mess around getting things started in the second half. Bell got rolling with a dunk in the paint then Kevin Norman got loose on the break threw down a highlight reel slam that sent the Swisher Gym faithful into a frenzy. Workman capped a 6-0 Dolphin run with a soft floater in the lane that found its mark to make it 42-29 with 14:39 to play.

NJIT managed to creep back to within seven at the 7:01 mark in the second half but another Barnes driving lay-in push the lead back to double-digits with 5:05 to go. NJIT never again found a way to reduce the Jacksonville lead to any less than nine.

With the clock winding down inside of 30 seconds to play, Jacksonville ran one last play for Barnes to put a bow on this one. He found space behind the arc and let fly the game-sealing three ball that gave this game its final margin, 68-52.

The Dolphins will hit the road on Friday morning to head north for a visit with preseason league favorite Liberty (17-1, 3-0 ASUN). That game is set for a 5 p.m. tip on Saturday afternoon (Jan. 11).
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