MOBILE, Ala. – Demontrez Austin's first career double-double led the Jacksonville University men's basketball team (2-1) to a 79-54 win Friday over Youngstown State (1-2) in the first game of the Red Diamond Roundball Classic. The Dolphins will face Florida International University on Saturday and tournament host University of South Alabama on Sunday.
"I thought that we were really disruptive on the defensive end and that's what we've been trying to achieve all season," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "We were very efficient shooting, though I wish we'd taken care of the ball a little bit better. That's not a strength of ours right now."
Jacksonville and Youngstown State traded baskets for the first two minutes of the second half, but once again JU's defense cracked down. The Penguins were held scoreless for the next 3:53 as JU jumped out to a 49-37 lead. But then JU's offense stalled just a little bit, and YSU started chipping away. Youngstown went on an 11-4 run to pull within five, 53-48. Mont again stopped the run, inspiring a 23-4 run over the next 7:54 to lead 76-52 with 1:11 remaining. YSU didn't make a bucket in the final 7:02.
"Austin did what we've always believed that he's been capable of," said Jasick. "He's finding his niche, and while he's a bit undersized, his physicality and his motor are incredibly impactful on the game."
Jacksonville won the opening tip and didn't look back. Scoreless in the first possession each team, it took a J.R. Holder three on the Dolphins' second possession to get the scoring started. The two teams continued to struggle offensively in the early going with only Holder's three on the board for the first 3:23. But a tip-in by Austin gave the senior his first points of the season, and inspired a 6-0 run by JU over the next 57 seconds. The Penguins made their next four shot attempts to pull within four, 15-11, with 11:48 left in the half.
Jacksonville's defense focused in, forcing three YSU turnovers and five missed shots over the next 2:48, allowing a 10-0 JU run. But the Pens' offense was too good to keep down long. Youngstown hit five of its next seven shots to pull within three points, 36-33. But Austin snapped the run and started a 5-0 JU run that ended the period. At the end of the first half JU led 41-33, leading all but the first 28 seconds.
- The last time Jacksonville beat a Division 1 opponent by 25 or more points was January 22, 2011. The Dolphins beat Kennesaw State 87-59 at Kennesaw.
- Austin's 10 points and 14 rebounds are both career highs. He previously had highs of six points and nine rebounds.
- Four Dolphins scored in double digits. Cody Helgeland had 22 points, Holder and Darien Fernandez each had 15 points, and Austin had 10 points.
- The Dolphins held Youngstown to 54 points. Before this game the Penguins were averaging 94 points per game.
- This the third team in a row that JU has played for the first time. The Dolphins are now 145-108 overall in first-time matchups.