NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two high-powered attacks went back and forth at each other for a full 40 minutes on Monday night, but with less than four minutes remaining, it appeared that Lipscomb was going to outlast the Jacksonville University men’s basketball team. With the Bisons up, 81-75, and time beginning to play against the Dolphins, a big three-point play from Jarvis Haywood was followed by a fantastic defensive play from Keith McDougald and the tying 3-pointer from Vince Martin. That stretch helped lift JU to a 13-4 run to close out the ballgame and give the Dolphins (6-9, 2-2 Atlantic Sun) a vital 88-85 win over the Bisons (5-10, 0-4 A-Sun) inside Allen Arena.
A sloppy start from both teams would not be indicative of the fireworks that were still to come. The Dolphins hit on only one of their first 10 field goal attempts until they got a lift off the bench when Marcellous Bell came on and scored a quick five points to knot the game at 9-9. Haywood then hit a 3-pointer – his only points of the first half – to give Jacksonville its first lead of the game at 12-11.
The margin would grow to five at 16-11 after a pair of Marcel White free throws, but the long-range shooting of Lipscomb would keep the Bisons in the game. Hitting seven 3-pointers in the first half alone, Lipscomb would keep Jacksonville within striking range, and pulled within a single point after Talbott Denny hit a rare triple that made it 39-38. An offensive foul on the other end gave the Bisons a chance to play for the last shot of the half, but J.R. Holder picked the pocket of J.C. Hampton at the top of the key and raced down to the other end for a breakaway jam to end the half and send the Dolphins into the locker room up by three.
Consecutive buckets by Haywood within the first four minutes of the second half would give Jacksonville its largest lead of the game at 51-43, but again Lipscomb nailed three straight 3-pointers to take the lead right back at 52-51. Undeterred, Jacksonville rallied and resumed its hot shooting against a Bisons defense that looked overwhelmed at times. A layup from Javon Dawson gave the Dolphins a 70-64 lead with nine minutes remaining and it appeared that JU might be able to start pulling away. Hampton came right back with five straight points however, and soon Lipscomb was closing out a 17-5 run with a Malcolm Smith layup to make it 81-75 with less than four minutes remaining.
Wasting no time pushing the ball up the court, Haywood got into the lane and scored with contact, converting the three-point play to cut the lead in half. Lipscomb then inbounded and walked the ball up the court, with McDougald hounding Hampton as he crossed the mid-court line. The Bisons took their time setting up an offense and McDougald’s persistence was paid off as Lipscomb was whistled for a five-second violation. The next time down the court, Haywood got into the lane and dished out to an open Martin. His 3-pointer was pure and the teams hit the reset button once again with the score tied at 81-81.
Two free throws from Martin Smith momentarily gave Lipscomb the lead once again at 83-81, until Haywood again ducked into the lane and finished in traffic to tie it up with 2:08 remaining. The teams then went over a minute scoreless as Holder ended one LU possession with a steal, then Malcolm Smith missed a pair of free throws that could have had the Bisons back out in front. Following the second of those misses, Dawson clutched the rebound and sent Jacksonville back the other way. Taking a feed in the lane, RJ Slawson jockeyed into position and laid the ball in for an 85-83 lead. A foul on the other end allowed Martin Smith to tie the game one last time at 85-85 with 49 seconds to play, but Haywood would not be denied. Racing the ball back down the court, the sophomore cut into the lane once again and softly floated in a shot with 35 second remaining to make it an 87-85 JU advantage.
Not wanting to wait for one last shot, the Bisons got back on offense and tried to send a ball into the post. Fronting his man and knocking away the pass was Martin, with Slawson there to grab it and take the foul. Hitting on one of two from the stripe, Slawson put the Dolphins up by three but allowed Lipscomb to potentially still come down and tie. He made up for his miss from the stripe by erasing the first Lipscomb attempt as Hampton tried to quickly score in the lane. On the inbounds, Martin Smith had a look from 3-point land but it hit the back rim and came out. Hampton was there to corral the long rebound, but Haywood was all over him and swatted away his shot attempt as time expired.
Haywood had 23 points – 20 of them in the second half – to lead JU on the night. Slawson made a number of crucial plays and ended with 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks in the contest. McDougald added 14 points while Dawson came up with nine points and eight boards.
Martin Smith came in as the second leading scorer in the Atlantic Sun at 17.7 points per game, but was held to nine by the Dolphins. His twin brother Malcolm had eight, well below his season average as well. Josh Williams scored a career-high 28 points for the Bisons on the night.
Jacksonville returns home on Thursday to face the Stetson Hatters (3-12, 1-2 A-Sun) at 7 p.m. from the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. The Dolphins will close out the weekend against Florida Gulf Coast (9-7, 3-0 A-Sun) on Saturday at 3:15 p.m.
- As the program’s all-time winningest coach, Cliff Warren is making Jacksonville history with every win. His latest milestone came by picking up his 120th career victory against Lipscomb.
- The Dolphins moved to 4-0 when outrebounding their opponent, 6-1 when ahead at the half and 2-0 when shooting better than 50 percent.
- Lipscomb’s 85 points were the most allowed by JU in a victory this season. It’s also the most points in a non-overtime win since a 93-89 triumph at Belmont on Feb. 5, 2005.
- Jacksonville had its biggest disparity in the paint this season, outscoring the Bisons 44-28 down low.
- Lipscomb tied or set a pair of 3-point records on the night. With 13 made 3-pointers, they became the seventh team to hit that number against Jacksonville under Cliff Warren. The Bisons also attemped 34 long-range shots, the most ever by an opponent in Warren’s nine years in charge.
- Jarvis Haywood’s 23 points were the most points scored by a Dolphin player this season, besting his previous total of 22 in a home victory over Kennesaw State. The sophomore has averaged 21.4 points per game in the last three contests and has a career scoring average of 24.5 per game in Lipscomb’s Allen Arena.
- RJ Slawson set a new season/career high by playing 32 minutes on the night.
- J.R. Holder had his first career multi-steal game.