The Tigers (1-2) thrived at the free throw line in overtime, going 5-of-8, and surviving a 1-of-9 extra session, getting a 14 points from Rashad Hassan.
The late rally by Savannah State overshadows a career night from Aloys Cabell, who scored 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting for JU (0-2).
“You have to give credit to Savannah State, they made the plays late to win the game,” said JU head coach Cliff Warren. “We didn’t do a good job of keeping them off the boards and they took advantage of their opportunities.”
The Dolphins were beaten on the board, 38-30, with Savannah State getting 19 offensive rebounds and cashed them in for 16 second chance points.
Cabell was one of three Dolphins in double figures, with Delwan Graham adding 17 points and 10 rebounds while Russell Powell had 11 points.
JU trailed the entire second half, including a seven-point deficit with just over four minutes left, but Chris Davis’ 3-pointer with 1 minute left in regulation gave the Dolphins a 63-62 lead.
Russell Powell’s jumper with 10 seconds left looked like the game winner until Arnold Louis’ jumper with 0.4 seconds left to tie the game at 65 and force overtime.
In the extra session, JU scored first to take a 67-65 lead on a Glenn Powell drive to the basket. Savannah State scored the next four points to take a 69-67 advantage and never trailed again.
The Dolphins had several chances to tie or take the lead, but couldn’t take advantage, much like a four minute stretch in regulation where JU trailed by one and couldn’t get points, eventually allowing the Tigers to go on a 7-0 run to take the late lead.
Hassan’s big night led four Tigers in double figures, with Preston Blacmon adding 11 while Jyles Smith and Joshua Montgomery chipping in with 10 each.
Savannah State got a putback with five seconds left from Richard Conner to cap a 7-2 spurt to end the half to take 38-32 lead at halftime.
The Dolphins return to the hardwood for their home opener on Friday night against Samford. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.