McDougald’s Big Night Tips Hatters, 88-75
Keith McDougald (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)
Keith McDougald (Photo Courtesy of Skip Tapp)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – If you’re going to become one of the rare college basketball players to reach 1,000 points, why not do it with the best offensive performance of your career? That’s exactly what Keith McDougald did on Thursday night in an 88-75 win at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The senior guard willed the Dolphins to victory with a career-high 27 points as well as a career-high seven assists to improve the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team to 7-9 (3-2 Atlantic Sun) going into the team’s game against Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday. Stetson dropped to 3-13 (1-3 A-Sun) in defeat.

The bounce in McDougald’s step was evident from the very beginning. He took a couple bounces and got into the middle of the Hatter defense before putting up a 17-footer that softly found nothing but twine for the first bucket of the game, a good sign of things to come. In fact, he started out the game by scoring nine of JU’s first 10 points though the Dolphins still trailed, 12-10, after four-and-a-half minutes.

That changed quickly when Jarvis Haywood took over with seven straight points of his own to spark an 11-0 Jacksonville run to make it 21-12, giving the Dolphins a lead they would hold the rest of the way. One big reason for the JU run was because of its swarming pressure defense. The first eight turnovers of the game all came from the Hatters, and helped the Dolphins open up their first double-digit lead of the night. After a Haywood jumper put the Green and Gold up by seven, 23-16, Stetson’s Brian Pegg drove into the lane only for the active hands of the JU defense to strip the ball away. Haywood grabbed the loose ball and hit McDougald upcourt, who then dished to Javon Dawson for a layup as the ball tic-tac-toed its way to the hoop. Moments later, McDougald converted a three-point play to make it 28-16.

Stetson closed to within three in the waning minutes of the first half, but a McDougald jumper restored Jacksonville to a 43-37 edge entering the break. The Hatters then cut the lead down to four with the opening bucket of the second half and once again McDougald was there for the answer. His 3-pointer ignited a 16-6 response from the Dolphins, giving the team a 59-45 lead and forcing a timeout from the Stetson bench. The Hatters would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way and the only question became whether McDougald would reach the scoring mark. The answer came with just under nine-and-a-half minutes remaining, as the senior swished a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give him 24 points on the night and 1,001 for his career. A few minutes later, another triple gave him 27 and his new career high.

“He (McDougald) has worked at it,” said Head Coach Cliff Warren. “He’s a grinder, he gets in the gym and he works on his skills. I don’t care where you play or at what level, that’s a huge accomplishment and a huge milestone.”

McDougald was far from alone in contributing to the victory. He joined four other Dolphins double-figures, the third time this season that JU has had five players score at least 10 in the same game. Haywood had nine in the first half and ended the night with 14 points. RJ Slawson again had a huge game inside with 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Dawson scored 11 points and chipped in five boards as well. J.R. Holder came off the bench to score 12 points in 15 minutes. Vince Martin also had a great night despite the team not needing his point production. The JU floor general had six assists on the night without a turnover, three rebounds and three steals.

Jacksonville stays at home to face Florida Gulf Coast – 79-75 winners over North Florida on Thursday – at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Saturday from Veterans Memorial Arena. The game will follow the Jacksonville women’s basketball team’s 1 p.m. clash against North Florida.

Game Notes
- Jacksonville forced Stetson into 18 turnovers on the night, the third-highest total of the season from the Dolphin defense and nearly six more turnovers than the Hatters were averaging coming into the night. JU forced 20 turnovers earlier this season at Florida State and against South Carolina State.

- The Dolphins put five players in double-figures on the night. JU also accomplished the feat earlier this season at home against Florida College and at Wake Forest.

- Keith McDougald becomes the 29th member of the Jacksonville men’s basketball 1,000 point club and is now tied in with Maurice Roulhac (1980-83) with 1,004 career points. His next point will put him at 28th place in JU’s career scoring list with Barry Brown (1,049 points from 1992-94) and Wayne Kruer (1,052 from 1965-68) next up on the charts.

- McDougald’s 27 points set a career high, breaking his previous mark of 26 set on Dec. 11, 2011 at Furman.

- McDougald became the eighth Dolphin player to lead the team in scoring this season, and he set a season high with four made 3-pointers.

- Through Jacksonville’s win over Kennesaw State, RJ Slawson was averaging 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. In the last three contests, he’s improved those numbers to 14.0 points and 6.7 boards as the Dolphins have gone 2-1.

- After a six-assist, zero-turnover outing against the Hatters, Vince Martin has put up 16 assists against just one turnover in the last three games. It’s his second time this season with a 6:0 assist/turnover ratio.