Northern Kentucky Comes Back to Stun Men’s Basketball, 73-66
Keith McDougald (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)
Keith McDougald (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Jordan Jackson had a game-high 28 points for Northern Kentucky, but it was everyone else on the court for the Norse who completed the comeback, rallying out of an eight-point deficit in the final eight minutes of the contest to defeat the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team on Saturday inside the Bank of Kentucky Center. RJ Slawson dunked home an offensive rebound to give JU a 61-53 lead with 8:19 remaining, but the Dolphins (5-9, 1-2 Atlantic Sun) only scored five more points the rest of the way. NKU moves to 6-9 (2-1 A-Sun) with the win.

The first half was a battle from the very beginning, with neither team able to lead at any time by more than four points. Jackson scored 15 in the opening frame with all seven of his field goals coming on drives to the rim. Countering him was the production of Jarvis Haywood and Keith McDougald. The backcourt duo combined for 26 points in the first 20 minutes, knocking down 12-of-14 free throws in the process. A free throw in the final minute of the half gave JU a one-point lead, 38-37, at the break.

Jacksonville came flying out after halftime, but Jackson refused to let the Dolphins pull too far away. Slawson opened the half with a 3-pointer from the corner and McDougald followed that with a layup to make it 43-37. He and Jackson then traded buckets before Jackson scored six consecutive points to knot the game at 45-45.

Vince Martin quickly put Jacksonville back out in front, connecting on a jumper while being fouled. Though he missed the subsequent free throw, some tough defense got the ball back in the hands of the Dolphins and Haywood hit on a 3-pointer to up the lead to five. Javon Dawson then was the recipient of a McDougald pass after McDougald had stolen the ball to start an opportunity for a run-out. The Dolphins remained comfortably ahead for a few minutes, leading up to Slawson’s dunk for their largest lead of the night and going to the media timeout with 7:30 to play ahead by eight.

Neither team would hit a field goal for nearly three minutes after that, though NKU cut into the lead with three free throws. With the ball in the Norse’s possession, McDougald cut a passing lane on an inbounds play and went coast-to-coast for a layup making it 63-56 with 4:45 remaining. Northern Kentucky then launched a 10-0 run in 2:30 to take a 66-63 lead on a Tyler White 3-pointer with 2:15 to play. Slawson came back with another jam to cut the JU deficit back to one, 66-65, but the dagger came with 30 seconds remaining. Jacksonville had played great defense for nearly the entire shot clock and the Norse had nothing happening. With the shot clock down to one, Todd Johnson put up a prayer from the top of the key that found the bottom of the net and upped NKU’s lead to four. The Dolphins momentarily cut the margin to three, but Northern Kentucky hit four free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal it.

Haywood had a team-high 19 points for JU on the night. McDougald was right behind him with 18 points and Slawson added 11. Dawson snared a team-high 10 boards.

Jacksonville will try to come away with a victory on the road trip on Monday night. The Dolphins face the Lipscomb Bisons in Nashville beginning at 6 p.m.

Game Notes
- The loss marked the first time that Jacksonville failed to convert a halftime lead into a victory this season.

- Jacksonville’s edge in points off turnovers (22-7) was its second-largest margin of the season. Only in a win over Florida College on Nov. 12, 2013 did the Dolphins have a better showing. That night, JU outscored the Falcons 22-2 off of miscues.

- Northern Kentucky’s 17 turnovers were its second-worst performance of the season. The Norse top the A-Sun in ball control, now turning it over at a rate of 12.1 times per game.

- Jacksonville has only been whistled for 13 personal fouls in each of the last two games. That ties a season-low established in the team’s win over Trinity Baptist.

- RJ Slawson became the second Dolphin to have a game with at least five blocks this season, joining Tyler Alderman who had six in a win over Trinity Baptist on Dec. 3, 2013.

- Keith McDougald’s 18 points were a season high for the senior.