The first men’s semifinal in the Atlantic Sun Conference basketball tournament was over almost before it began as Jacksonville cruised past Gardner-Webb 89-80 Friday night.
The Dolphins, who improved to 18-12, will now meet the winner of the other semifinal between top-seeded Belmont and East Tennessee State on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Ben Smith had the hot hand for the Dolphins, scoring 27 points and eight of Jacksonville’s first 16 as the Dolphins cruised to a 16-3 lead.
From that point, the Dolphins were hardly challenged and put an exclamation point on a strong first half with a 40-foot shot by Andre McMillan that pushed Jacksonville’s lead to 46-27.
After building the lead to as many as 22 points, Gardner-Webb chipped away behind a game-high 29 points from Thomas Sanders, closing the margin to single digits at game’s end.