Hezekiah’s tip in near the buzzer helped the Bulldogs (4-3) fight off a Dolphins (3-5) rally that erased a 15-point deficit in the final five minutes.
“I am proud of the effort tonight,” JU head coach Cliff Warren said. “Our guys didn’t get down and continued to chip away at the lead. We got our opportunity in the end, but fell a little short. We look forward to learning from this loss and coming out stronger for our next game.”
Trailing by 15 with 5:01 left, the Dolphins trimmed the deficit to 70-63 (1:01) on a jumper by freshman Jarvis Haywood. In the next possession, the Bulldogs only made one free throw in the double bonus, which JU capitalized on with a three pointer by junior Dylan Fritsch to make it 71-66 in the final minute. South Carolina State again only made one of the next bonuses, allowing junior Javon Dawson to nail a three-pointer to make it 72-69. He continued his momentum by stealing the inbound pass and flipping it to Fritsch for a three-pointer in the right corner to tie it at 72 all with 25.6 seconds left.
After a Bulldogs timeout, Adama Adams wound the clock down, drove the lane and missed a floater. Hezekiah caught the rebound and put it back up for the go-ahead score with 1.6 left. Freshman Kordario Fleming took one last long shot only to have it fall short.
Fritsch had 14 points to lead the Dolphins, who finished shooting 51.6 (16-31) from the floor in the second half. Fleming and Haywood each had 13 points, while Dawson finished with 10 points. JU shot 37.9 percent (11-29) from the floor in the first half
In the first half, the Bulldogs took an early 17-9 lead on a jumper by Patrick Myers at 13:49. Two layups by Fleming helped cut the JU deficit to 27-20 (6:23) before a 15-6 run gave the Bulldogs a 42-26 advantage with 1:56 left. Dawson had a tip in at the buzzer to pull the JU deficit to 45-30 at halftime.
Adams had 16 points for the Bulldogs offense, while Myers finished with 15 points. Hezekiah and Darryl Palmer each had 12 points to help the cause.
The Dolphins return to action Monday against Florida Christian is Swisher Gymnasium. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.