TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With no shot clock and just three seconds left in the game, Darien Fernandez hit a dagger from beyond the arc to give Jacksonville University (8-4) a 75-72 victory at Florida A&M (2-9) on Saturday. The Dolphins trailed by as much as 17 points in the first half.
"Give Florida A&M a lot of credit. I thought they came out with the right energy and the right mindset to start the game, and I thought we did some things to allow them to get comfortable," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "When you allow a team who is as talented as they are offensively to get on a roll, you're going to put yourself in a bad spot, which we did in the first half."
"Obviously Darius Dawkins came in and gave us a huge lift in the first half, and then our defense did a really nice job for the majority of the second half, allowing us to get back into the game and get that lead. We were a little disheveled the last two minutes, but when you're on the road things like that happen. Our team stayed the course and Darien hit a big shot at the end," concluded Jasick.
Jacksonville opened the second half with an impressive 8-0 run, tying up the game at 46-46 with 18:09 left in the game. FAMU responded with a 6-0 run of its own, and led 52-46 with just under 15 minutes left. The Rattlers stretched their lead to as much as eight points, 58-50, with 12:37 left. But an 11-1 JU run over the next five minutes allowed JU to take a 61-59 lead with 8:32 left, the first lead since 18:12 in the first. The Dolphins stretched their lead to as much as eight, 70-62, with 3:17 left, fueled by 15 second-half points from Devin Harris and eight second-half points from J.R. Holder.
From the 12:37 mark until the 1:57 mark, Jacksonville kept Florida A&M from making any field goals, forcing five turnovers during that period. But free throws allowed FAMU back in the game. The Rattlers hit seven free throws to chip away, and tied the game 72-72 with just 27 seconds left. But a crazy crossover three by Fernandez with just three seconds on the clock gave the Dolphins a 75-72 lead, and a steal by Fernandez on the Rattlers' final inbounds play sealed the win.
For the 11th time in 12 games, the opening tip went to the opposing team. The Rattlers missed their opening shot, and Jacksonville drew blood first on two bouncing free throws from Omar El Manasterly. The two teams traded baskets for the first 1:46, with JU leading 6-5. The Dolphins would not lead for the rest of the half, as FAMU used a 12-0 run to lead 17-6 with 14:19 left in the period. JU knocked the lead down to eight points, 22-14, with back-to-back threes from Andris Misters and Cody Helgeland, but a 7-0 run by FAMU stretched the lead to 15 points, 29-14, with 10:43 left. The Rattlers led by as much as 17 points, 41-25, with just over four minutes left.
But momentum finally swung back Jacksonville's way. Jacksonville outscored Florida A&M 13-6 over the final four minutes, including an 8-0 run in the final 2:07 fueled by two threes from Darius Dawkins. Dawkins was 4-5 from deep in the first half.
- Four Dolphins scored in double digits. Harris had 17, a career-best. Fernandez & Holder each had 16 points, and Dawkins had 12. Harris also had 11 boards, his first double-double.
- Jacksonville improved to 7-1 when scoring at least 70 points.
- The Dolphins were just 1-3 when trailing at the half before winning at Florida A&M.
- Jacksonville improves to 10-2 all-time against Florida A&M, at 3-1 in games at Tallahassee. The Dolphins are 2-1 in true road games, and won a tourney in Tallahassee in 1998.
- Jasick is now 3-0 against FAMU.