On Monday night in a raucous Swisher Gymnasium, the Dolphins fought through their demons to end a 13-game losing streak with a 77-74 win over USC Upstate in overtime.
Jacksonville (3-15, 1-6 A-Sun) had five players score in double figures, led by Tevin Galvin’s 15 points, with Delwan Graham and Glenn Powell each recording double-doubles.
“It’s a relief,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We fought hard all night and executed in late game situations tonight, especially at the free throw line.”
Jacksonville won the game on the glass and at the free throw line. JU held a plus-nine advantage on the boards and scored 22 second chance points. The Dolphins also were hot at the stripe, hitting 22 of their 27 free throw attempts, with Galvin, Keith McDougald and Chris Davis combining to go 13-for-14.
Upstate (10-9, 4-3 A-Sun) rallied from a four-point halftime deficit and eventually built a six-point lead, 63-57, on a pair of Jodd Maxey free thows with 4:33 left in regulation.
The Dolphins answered by scoring the next six points, tying the game with 1:51 left on a pair of Galvin free throws. JU took the lead with 39 seconds left on a pair of Graham free throws and extend it to three with another pair of Galvin free throws with 18 seconds left.
Clinging to that 67-64 lead, JU’s defense saw Ty Greene hit a contested 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime.
JU never trailed in the extra session, with Keith McDougald hitting a 3-pointer on the opening possession, shaking off his first six misses from behind the arc. The Dolphins held a five-point lead thanks to a Russell Powell jumper in the lane with 3:31 left in the game.
Upstate didn’t go away though. The Spartans cut the lead to one on a pair of free throws by Torrey Craig with 1:08 left and after another jumper by Powell, Mario Blessing cut the lead back to one with 23 seconds left.
Keith McDougald toed the free throw line with JU leading by just one with 18 seconds left and hit both free throws to extend the lead back to three, 77-74. The Dolphins defense did enough on the final possession, harassing Greene into an off-balance try to force a second overtime with final horn sounding as the ball fell into the arms of Powell.
Glenn Powell had his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out for the second straight game. Graham had 10 points and 11 rebounds off the bench, with 10 of those boards coming on the offensive end. McDougald added 13 points while Aloys Cabell had 10 points.
Jacksonville’s defense stole the show in the first half, helping the Dolphins survive a scoring drought in the final six minutes of the session in which JU scored just five points to take a 32-28 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Upstate got a game-high 20 points from Greene, with the A-Sun’s leading scorer Torrey Craig adding 17, Maxey chipping in with 15 off the bench and Ricardo Glenn scoring 14. Craig had a double-double with a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Dolphins return to action on Saturday as they look for their first winning streak of the season when they travel to face Kennesaw State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
With the win, Cliff Warren surpassed Joe Williams for third on the all-time wins list at JU with his 96th career victory…the 13-game losing streak is the second longest in program history…the halftime lead was just the third for the Dolphins this season (vs. Samford, at UAB)…the five players scoring in double figures was the most by the Dolphins this season…the last time JU had two players record a double-double in a game was against Concordia on Nov. 17, 2007 (Marcus Allen and Lehmon Colbert)…JU out scored its opponent at the free throw line for just the second time this season.