COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Three Dolphins scored in double-figures, but struggles with foul trouble and from behind the arc hindered Jacksonville University's men's basketball team from starting the season 2-0. The Dolphins fell to the United State Air Force Academy on Monday night.
"Air Force was very comfortable offensively, and we'd didn't do a great job offensively in the first half," said Head Coach Tony Jasick on how the Falcons built their lead. "We allowed way too many perimeter threes. We gave up 13 points on offensive rebounds and turnovers in the first half. We just bit ourselves a bit too much, and you can't let a team like this get comfortable offensively."
JU started the second half aggressively with a layup by J.R. Holder, and made all of their next attempts. Air Force responded with three buckets of their own, keeping the lead at 14 points. Over the next 6:12 JU's offense struggled to find a rhythm, sinking just 3 of their next 11 attempts. During that time Air Force outscored the Dolphins 28-15, jumping out to a 30-point lead, 81-51. JU got buckets from Andris Misters, Omar El Manasterly, and Darien Fernandez to chip away the lead, and Devin Harris hit his final 7 free throw attempts, but Air Force was able to hang on, winning by 18, 86-68.
"It's a good lesson for our team about preparation and playing the right way on the road," said Jasick. "Hopefully this lessons sticks after Game 2 and not Game 10 or 12."
Air Force won the tip, but JU struck first with a deep Helgeland three. Air Force took the lead with a 5-0 run, but big shots by Harris and Holder swung the lead back to Jacksonville at 8-5. At the 14:42 mark the Falcons' defense stepped up, holding the Dolphins scoreless for a little over four minutes. During that time Air Force stretched its lead with a 12-2 run, leading 17-13 with 8:46 to go in the first period. Misters was the first Dolphin to score a second bucket, kissing a layup off the backboard with 8:15 left in the first. The Falcons closed the half with a 23-13 run, leading 40-26 at the half.
- Harris set a career-best in his trip back to the place he called home for six years, scoring 14 points and hitting 7 of his 8 free throw attempts. The junior from Tampa, Fla., connected on his final seven attempts.
- Misters twice hit huge buckets to stop Air Force runs. The first came with 10:45 left in the first half when he scored on a layup, ending a 10-0 run. The second came on an 0-7 shooting drought by JU that lasted over six minutes. The senior from Jelgava, Latvia, hit a deep three to start a 5-0 run by the Dolphins.
- Holder once again led the Dolphins in scoring with 15 points, and newcomers Harris, Helgeland, and Tanner Rubio continue to play important parts, contributing 40 percent of JU's offense.
- Foul trouble pestered the Dolphins all night. Several key players were forced to sit early on, and JU finished with a 26-18 disadvantage in penalties called.
- Jacksonville regressed slightly from beyond the arc, dropping from 45.5 percent against Denver to 31.8 percent against Air Force.