MOBILE, Ala. – Shooting from the penalty stripe proved integral Saturday in Jacksonville University's 78-75 overtime victory over Florida International University (1-3) in the Dolphins' second game of the Red Diamond Roundball Classic. The Dolphins (3-1) will face tournament host University of South Alabama on Sunday at 4:05 p.m. ET.
"A great team effort today," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "Give FIU a lot of credit. I thought the game was going our way for most of the game, but they hung around. Then they got really aggressive in the second half, and it took a herculean effort by some of our guys to get us back in this. I can't speak enough on our team's mental and physical toughness down the stretch."
In the OT FIU once again won the opening tip, and again scored first, taking a 72-70 lead. Omar El Manasterly responded with a tip-in on a J. R. Holder miss, and then the Dolphins took a 74-72 lead with two clutch free throws by El Manasterly. FIU hit one of two free throws, and Cody Helgeland hit two from the penalty stripe to stretch the JU lead to three. FIU pulled within one with a layup, and Darien Fernandez closed the Dolphin scoring with two more makes from the stripe. Jacksonville led 78-75 with 50 seconds, and held off three FIU three-point attempts in the closing seconds to win by the same score.
FIU and JU traded baskets early in the second period, but an 0-5 shooting streak by Jacksonville opened the door for the Panthers to go on a 14-0 run. With 11:24 left in the half, FIU had its biggest lead, nine points, at 52-43. A JU timeout gave the Dolphins a chance to catch their breath, and Holder ended the Dolphin drought with a driving layup. From that point to the end of the half JU outscored the Panthers 27-18, retaking the lead briefly, 68-67, with 2:24 left in the game. FIU's Donte McGill hit a dagger of a three to give the Panthers a two-point lead with just 47 seconds left, and then Eric Lockett drew a Dolphin foul with just 16 seconds left, potentially sealing the victory for FIU. Then Locket missed the first of his 1 & 1 opportunity, and Fernandez hit the two most important free throws of the season to tie up the game 70-70.
FIU won the opening tip and drew first blood, sinking their first shot. JU reciprocated with a 12-0 run over the next 5:24, and led 12-2 with just over 12 minutes left. During that streak FIU missed its next nine shots and had four turnovers. But all good things must come to an end, and that proved true over the next few minutes as the Panthers put together a 9-2 run to come within three points at 16-13. three points at 16-13. Jasick called a timeout, getting JU's offense refocused. Over the next 55 seconds JU hit its next five shots, stringing together a 10-2 run to jump out to their largest lead, 31-19. Again FIU scrapped back, ending the half with a 10-4 run to put the score at 35-29.
- The Dolphins are now 3-1 on the season. The last time JU went 3-1 in its first three games was 2010-11, when Jacksonville finished 20-11 and went to the CIT Second Round.
- The last time JU won an overtime game was at Stetson, 96-88, on February 6, 2016.
- Holder scored 28 points on 12-17 shooting. The senior has scored in the double digits in all four games this season. He also had four rebounds, three assists, and one block.
- Fernandez started the evening 2-4 from the line, then hit his final four attempts to seal the win.
- JU is 3-1 this season in games against first-time opponents. The Dolphins are now 146-108 all-time in first-time meetings. They have two left on the schedule.
- Four Dolphins scored in double digits. Holder had 28, Fernandez had 20, and Devin Harris & El Manasterly each had 10.