JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Three players off the bench scored in double-figures for the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team on Saturday as the Dolphins (2-3) survived a challenge from Florida A&M, 76-72. Marcel White had a big game once again, setting a career high with 16 points and knocking down three 3-pointers to pace the JU offense. Tyler Alderman was 6-of-9 from the floor for 13 points, while Sam Hunt and Jarvis Haywood each chipped in with 10 points.
The Jacksonville offense started sluggishly, allowing Florida A&M to establish its largest lead of the game within seven minutes at 13-6. The Rattler duo of Jamie Adams and Trey Kellum combined for FAMU’s first 11 points to help their cause before the Dolphins responded with a 9-2 run capped by White’s mid-range jumper to tie the score at 15-15.
The two sides traded baskets over the next few minutes and the score was still tied at 22-22 with 6:21 to go until the break after FAMU’s Willie Connor tied it up on a putback layup. The next time down the floor, Alderman posted up for his third field goal of the first half to reclaim the lead for the Dolphins and they would hold their edge the rest of the way into halftime. A 3-pointer from Hunt gave JU a seven-point lead, 31-24, but Reggie Lewis hit a jumper for the Rattlers to make it a 31-26 game at halftime. With Hunt leading the way with seven points in the opening 20 minutes, Jacksonville’s bench held a 21-4 edge over its Florida A&M counterparts.
After making the opening bucket of the contest, Javon Dawson repeated it in the second half with a tough finish at the rim, making it 33-26. The Rattlers then launched an 11-3 run to take a 37-36 lead with less than 16 minutes to go. White supplied JU with a 3-pointer during the FAMU run and tried to retake the lead for the Dolphins on the next trip down, but missed. Haywood was there though, grabbing the offensive board and sticking it back to put Jacksonville on top.
The JU lead hovered near a single point over the next few minutes until a J.R. Holder triple gave the Dolphins some breathing room. Suddenly up 47-43, the Green and Gold were able to expand their advantage until a Haywood layup gave them their largest lead at 59-49 with under seven minutes to play.
Though facing a large deficit, Florida A&M refused to go away. Down 68-59 with 3:35 remaining, the Rattlers went on a 7-0 run in less than two minutes to cut the Jacksonville lead down to two. After Haywood hit one of two from the line, a long two from Conner made it a 69-68 game with 46 seconds remaining.
Hustling the ball downcourt, White fed Alderman in the paint against a collapsing FAMU defense. He took the contact and finished with 38 seconds to go, then hit a free throw to make it 72-68. Undeterred, the Rattlers attacked the basket on their next possession and drew a foul, hitting both shots to once again slice the deficit to two. Putting on a full-court press, Florida A&M forced a turnover and converted it into two free throws that tied the game for the final time at 72-72 with 21 seconds to play.
Jacksonville used a timeout to set up a play, then calmly got the ball forward to run its offense. With the clock ticking down, Vince Martin was able to free himself near the bucket and draw contact. He swished two free throws with less than four seconds to play, seemingly clinching the game until a foul was called on Jacksonville on the inbounds pass. The two shots from the line gave the Rattlers one last chance to force the game to an extra session, but Adams’ first shot hit every part of the rim before falling off. Florida A&M was then called for a lane violation on his second free throw and Martin drained two more from the stripe to seal the win.
Haywood led the Dolphins with nine rebounds on the day. Martin dished out six assists, while Kordario Fleming came off the bench and added eight points.
“I was very impressed today by the guys who were coming off the bench,” said Head Coach Cliff Warren. “They came in ready and played like starters, helping us balance out our minutes. It was a good team effort and we’ll need to carry that into Monday.”
Jacksonville quickly returns to action on Monday night, taking on No. 16 Florida at the Veterans Memorial Arena at 7 p.m. Individual tickets are still available through Ticketmaster.
Jacksonville earned its second win of the year when allowing 72 points to its opponent. In the team’s three losses, the Dolphins have allowed 89.3 points per game.
For the second time this season, the Jacksonville bench outscored the starting five. The four reserves who saw the court all scored at least eight points, led by Marcel White’s team-high 16.
After averaging 1.7 points per game in his first three contests, White has averaged 15.0 points in the last two outings.
White and fellow freshman Sam Hunt failed to convert a 3-pointer in each of the first three games this season. In the last two, they’ve eached drained five apiece.
Jacksonville’s seven made 3-pointers matched a season high set previously in its home victory against Florida College.
Jarvis Haywood matched a career high with nine rebounds, becoming the fifth different Dolphin to lead the team in boards in a game this season.
Haywood and Tyler Alderman each grabbed five offensive rebounds as the Dolphins tied a season high with 17 on the offensive glass. JU converted those chances into a season-high 18 second-chance points.