JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A career best 30 points for J.R. Holder and 20 points in Cody Helgeland's debut helped the Jacksonville University men's basketball team (1-0) win 92-84 Saturday over the University of Denver (0-1) in its season debut.
"We're still a bunch that has to learn how to win, and I wish we could have played those last two minutes better, but hopefully we can learn through winning," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "I give our guys a lot of credit for getting this big win on the road."
Denver came out of the first half locker room trailing by one, and opened the second half with a 7-3 run to take a 54-51 lead, holding the Dolphins to just one bucket in the first four minutes of the second period. JU fought back with a big run of its own, 10-2, over the next four minutes, leading 61-56 with 12 minutes remaining. JU really poured it on as the game progressed, taking a 16-point lead, 82-66, with less than four minutes left. Denver's Joe Rogsa poured in a few threes to get the game within five points with 42 seconds remaining, but clutch free throws by Holder, Darien Fernandez, and a dunk by Devin Harris sealed the win for JU.
"For about 18 minutes in the second half we were pretty good defensively," said Jasick. "We settled down and rebounded the ball well. The last two minutes got a little bit helter skelter, and I hope we can learn from that."
Denver won the opening tip, and got off to a hot start with a make on their first shot attempt under first year Head Coach Rodney Billups. The two teams shot over 40 percent in the first four minutes, and JU quickly took an 8-5 lead. DU would fight back to take a 9-8 lead out of the first timeout, but the Dolphins would respond with a 10-0 run to take a 19-9 lead with 12 remaining. DU used a 19-7 run to retake the lead 28-26, and yet again the Dolphins responded, closing the half with a 22-19 run to lead 48-47 at the end of the first. The two teams made 16 threes in the first half alone, and combined for 26 fouls.
- Holder's 30 points were a career best. His previous best of 25 points came in a loss at Stetson on Feb. 25, 2015.
- Rosga's 30 points were the most a Pioneer has scored since Brett Olson scored 30 against South Dakota on Feb. 2, 2014.
- The two teams combined for 22 made three pointers, 16 of which came in the first half.
- There were 60 fouls combined in the game. Five Dolphins earned four fouls, but none fouled out.
- Fernandez and Marcel White also scored in double figures. Fernandez had 12 and White had 10.
- This is the first time the Dolphins have won their season debut since 2007, when the Dolphins beat Savannah State 79-63 on Nov. 11, 2007.
- The Dolphins are now 144-107 in first-time meetings.