JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The more than 5,000 in attendance certainly got their money’s worth on Friday night in the latest chapter of the River City Rumble. Unfortunately for fans of Jacksonville men’s basketball, the Dolphins (8-10, 4-3 Atlantic Sun) missed their chances at the line down the stretch and allowed North Florida (11-9, 5-2 A-Sun) to come back and claim an 86-82 win at UNF Arena.
The officials were quick to set in the tone in the opening minute as each team was called for a pair of personal fouls in the first 60 seconds of the contest. Despite the early hiccups on either side, the offenses were soon flowing and the Dolphins were the first to take advantage. Jarvis Haywood ended the night with a career-high 29 points, but it was in the first half where he was particularly unstoppable. A pull-up jumper and 3-pointer on consecutive possessions from the sophomore put JU on top, 8-2, but he wasn’t anywhere close to done.
Keith McDougald got in on the act with a transition bucket, and Haywood then erupted for two more field goals to push the lead to 15-7 just over four minutes in. Only the play of UNF’s Travis Wallace kept the game from getting out of hand in the opening minutes. The Osprey big man had seven points and scored the final hoop of a 7-0 run that brought UNF back to within a point at 15-14.
Having never trailed to open the game, JU continues to lead throughout the remainder of the first half, thanks in large part to Haywood. Connecting on eight of his nine shot attempts in the opening 20 minutes – including all four 3-point attempts – Haywood had poured in 20 points by the break and silenced an amped-up UNF student section. He couldn’t do it all by himself though. McDougald and Vince Martin each played a part in setting the breakneck pace of play, pushing the tempo of the contest at any opportunity and frustrating the Ospreys with baskets in the paint. All told, the starting backcourt trio of JU combined for 39 of the team’s 50 points in the first half as the Dolphins went into halftime up, 50-43.
UNF came out of the locker rooms with a 6-0 burst to slice Jacksonville’s lead to one in the first two minutes of the second half and awaken the slumbering crowd, but Haywood responded to the challenge by driving down the lane and finishing from just outside the paint to ignite an 8-2 run from the Phins, putting JU back on top by seven, 58-51. The Ospreys refused to be put away however, coming back with a 9-0 rally of their own to take the lead for the first time all night, 60-58, with 13 minutes remaining.
The lead would swing back and forth between the teams for much of the remainder of the game, and as the clock ticked away, the Jacksonville misses from the foul line only became magnified. Fouled on a 3-pointer, RJ Slawson saw all three roll around and out on one trip. Later, Marcel White would leave a pair on the front iron. The Dolphins shot 10-of-19 from the line in the second half and 18-of-32 from the stripe for the entire game, seeing valuable points fall by the wayside. One of two from the line from Haywood with less than six minutes remaining knotted the contest up for a sixth time at 69-69, and the Ospreys fed Wallace in the paint on the next trip down. His jumper put UNF back in the lead as the clock wound down under five minutes to play.
Pulling ahead by as many as four, UNF looked to lock down on defense and clinch the win, but Javon Dawson scored an important basket to deficit in half. After a couple more trips down the floor, McDougald buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 75-75 with 2:27 to play. Looking for a stop to grab the momentum back fully, Jacksonville instead saw DeMarcus Daniels knock in a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Ospreys ahead for good. The next time down the floor, McDougald had another look from long-range, but Beau Beech made a good late recovery to challenge the shot and it never drew iron. Dallas Moore then found a seam and made consecutive layups to give UNF its largest lead of the night, 82-75, with just over a minute to play.
Jacksonville fought hard in the dying seconds and closed to within three points, 83-80, after McDougald hit a clutch 3-pointer. Applying a press on the UNF inbounds pass, the Dolphins nearly caused a turnover that would have given them a chance to tie the game, but the officials instead called a foul on JU, sending Charles McRoy to the line where he sealed the game.
In addition to his career-high 29 points, Haywood had six boards in the game as well for JU. McDougald added 20 points and Martin had 13. Dawson put up a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards. Wallace was a one-man wrecking crew for the Ospreys with 27 points and 19 rebounds. He was helped by 15 points from Moore and 13 from McRoy. Despite the incredibly uptempo game that both teams played, they combined for just seven turnovers the entire night.
Jacksonville will be back at it on Thursday night, traveling to face USC Upstate at 7:30 p.m. in a game that can be seen on ESPN3.
- Both Jacksonville (four) and North Florida (three) set records for fewest turnovers in a game during Cliff Warren’s tenure as head coach of the Dolphins. JU’s previous low had been six in a March 6, 2009 game at Lipscomb.
- Jacksonville’s 50-point first half was the most scored by the team in one half against a Division I opponent this season, surpassing the 49 points they put up on Kennesaw State in the first half of the team’s win on Jan. 1.
- For the first time since Nov. 23, 2012 against Rider, two Jacksonville players (Jarvis Haywood with 29, Keith McDougald with 20) scored at least 20 points in the same game. McDougald also had 20 points in that contest with the Broncs.
- The 14 misses from the free throw line on the night were the most by a JU team since Jan. 26, 2011. That night, the Dolphins shot 11-of-26 from the stripe in another River City Rumble game at UNF Arena. Despite their shooting woes that night, JU eked out a 63-62 overtime victory.
- Haywood and McDougald are ranked first and third, respectively, in scoring in Atlantic Sun games. Haywood is pouring in 18.6 points through seven games and McDougald is adding in 17.0 of his own. Only Ty Greene of USC Upstate (17.5 ppg) is keeping the duo from running 1-2 atop the leaderboard.
- For the fourth straight game, RJ Slawson either tied or led the team outright in rebounding.
- 11 rebounds from Slawson and 10 from Javon Dawson give the Dolphins their first game with two double-figure rebounders this season.