FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the first 10 minutes of Thursday night’s matchup between the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team and Florida Gulf Coast, all signs pointed to a high-scoring battle that would be contested down to the late stages of the game. Things swiftly turned against the Dolphins however, with a 21-2 Eagle run allowing FGCU (15-9, 9-2 Atlantic Sun) to open up a 20-point lead in the first half and cruise to a 100-71 victory over Jacksonville (9-14, 5-7 A-Sun) at Alico Arena.
Eric McKnight and RJ Slawson went at each other early. McKnight had six of the first eight FGCU points, but Slawson had seven of JU’s first nine and picked up a pair of personal fouls on Chase Fieler, sending the main FGCU post threat to the bench within the first four minutes. Slawson converted a three-point play on Fieler’s second foul to give the Dolphins their first lead at 9-8 with 16:27 remaining in the half.
Consecutive buckets by Sam Hunt and Keith McDougald pushed the JU edge to three, at 15-12, giving Jacksonville what would be its largest lead of the night. Florida Gulf Coast quickly countered with five straight points including a Brett Comer three-pointer to retake the lead. Marcel White came into the game and got involved with the offense, knocking down a mid-range jumper to tie it at 17-17, then later stepping out and knocking down a triple to give the Dolphins a 22-21 edge.
After a FGCU turnover, Jacksonville had the ball out of a media timeout with 10 minutes to go until halftime. The Dolphins worked the ball in low to Slawson who turned but couldn’t connect on a shot in the lane. Plenty of JU players crashed the board though, ultimately giving the team four looks at the basket. None of them went down however, and Bernard Thompson emerged with the ball to go coast-to-coast for a layup plus the foul to put the Eagles up, 24-22. It seemed unlikely at the moment that Jacksonville was done, but with the crowd fully involved, Florida Gulf Coast reeled off a 16-0 spell and scored 21 of the next 23 points to take a 42-24 lead, capped by a Thompson dunk in transition off a feed from Comer. FGCU’s lead remained at 18 at the break, with the Eagles up, 49-31.
Thoughts of a Jacksonville comeback were pretty quickly dismissed after Comer hit consecutive threes to begin the second half. After scoring 10 points in the opening 20 minutes, Comer would add 20 more to his tally for the night, many coming in a quick burst in which he had 10 of FGCU’s first 20 points after the break. Down by 27, the Dolphins would cut into the lead with a 9-0 rally started by consecutive Javon Dawson layups that made it 65-47, but the Fins would get no closer the rest of the way.
Dawson ended the night as the leading scorer and rebounder for Jacksonville, putting together a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds. Slawson added 12 points, while Jarvis Haywood chipped in with 11 on a poor shooting night for the conference’s leading scorer. Comer’s 30 points were a game-high, as were his eight assists. McKnight ended the game shooting a perfect 11-for-11 from the field for 22 points.
Jacksonville wraps up its road trip at Stetson on Saturday at 1p.m. from the Edmunds Center in DeLand before beginning a three-game home stand on Feb. 14 with a River City Rumble clash against North Florida.
- The 58 points that Florida Gulf Coast scored in the paint were the most given up by the Dolphins this season.
- Brett Comer’s 30 points were the most by a single player against Jacksonville this season, eclipsing the 28 points scored by Jordan Jackson of Northern Kentucky (1/4/14) and Josh Williams of Lipscomb (1/6/14).
- JU’s .370 field goal percentage in the game was the lowest by the team since the conference opener against Mercer.
- Jacksonville secured nineteen offensive rebounds, the most in a game by the Dolphins on the season.
- Despite that, the Dolphins had a three-game streak of outrebounding their opponents snapped.
- Javon Dawson had his fourth double-double of the season, however Jacksonville is 0-4 in those contests.
- RJ Slawson had two steals in the game, matching a career high and marking the fifth time this season he’s had multiple steals in a contest.
- Sam Hunt had six points on the night, the most in a conference game this season for the freshman guard.