MOBILE, Ala. – Physical play was the name of the game Sunday in the second half of the 58-71 loss by Jacksonville University (3-2) to the University of South Alabama (5-0) in the final game of the Red Diamond Roundball Classic. South Alabama outscored JU 18-12 in the paint, outrebounded the Dolphins, and outscored JU 16-2 in fast break opportunities.
"Give South Alabama some credit. They frustrated us on the offensive end and we allowed that to effect the way we played on the defensive end," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "I told our team that this is some good experience as long as we grow from it and learn what it's like when a team does play sound, solid defense and what it looks like when we play good offense against that as opposed to a bunch of turnovers."
The second half opened with a three from Devin Harris, pulling JU within two points at 28-30. The two teams traded baskets the next few minutes, but six misses and two turnovers by Jacksonville allowed the Jaguars to string together a 19-8 run, leading 53-41 with just over eight minutes left.
JU used free throws down the stretch to pull within six, 47-53, but big fast break buckets by USA's Georgi Boyanov fueled an 8-0 South Alabama run that put the Jaguars out front by 14, 64-50. JU forced several turnovers and hit their shots in the final few minutes, but couldn't get the deficit under 10. At the end South Alabama won 71-58.
The tip went to South Alabama, and the Jags quickly took a 2-0 lead on the only bucket of the first three minutes. The lead stretched to four points, 0-4, before Holder broke the drought with a deep two. The two teams traded missed shots for the next 2:36 before either team hit a bucket. A Jaguar three gave USA a 9-4 lead, but J.R. Holder responded with back-to-back threes of his own to give the Dolphins their only lead of the first half, 10-9.
A 10-0 Jaguar run starting with a little over 10 minutes left in the half gave South Alabama some breathing room. During that two & a half minute stretch JU missed three shots and turned it over four times. Jacksonville finally got back in the game with buckets from Holder, Demontrez Austin, and Devin Harris, tying the game 21-21 with 4:50 left, and again tied it 24-24 with 3:25 remaining. But turnovers down the stretch allowed a 6-1 USA run, and at the half South Alabama led 30-25.
- Holder had 20 points in the game on 50% shooting, 50% from three, and 75% from the line.
- Holder has 108 points this season. The senior is now just 90 points from breaking the 1,000 point barrier.
- Tanner Rubio continued his hot shooting in his rookie year with a 3-4 performance from deep, scoring nine.
- Jacksonville shot under 40 percent from the field for the first time this season.