JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A career-best 31 points from freshman guard Tanner Rubio, 26 points from J.R. Holder, and 23 points from Darien Fernandez led Jacksonville University (14-9, 2-4 ASUN) to a 103-92 victory over Stetson (8-14, 1-5 ASUN) Wednesday at the Historic Swisher Gym.
"I thought we came out in the first half and did a really good job defensively, which led to us being able to get the ball in transition on the offensive end," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "We were able to keep the ball happy, which we hadn't been able to do the past few games. Happy means the ball doesn't stick; it's always moving. You don't hold the ball. When we get in that pace, I think we're very hard to guard."
"I didn't expect [to start tonight]," said Rubio. "I walked in and saw my name on the board. Darien turned to me and said, 'Be ready to go Rubio,' and I was pretty surprised. It was definitely an experience. I was nervous at first with sweat palms, knees shaking, and all that, but at the end of the day the guys I look up to, the seven seniors, told me to just go out and play my game."
The second half started very differently from the first for Jacksonville. The Dolphins shot only two three-pointers in the first five minutes and took eight two-point shots, trading buckets with Stetson on the way to a 70-47 lead with 14:29 remaining. Derick Newton then went to work, draining a wide-open three-pointer to start a 12-3 run that pulled Stetson within 16, 75-59, with 11:50 remaining. Rubio hit his seventh three-pointer of the night to stem the bleeding, but another big run by the Hatters trimmed the margin to just five points, 86-81, with 5:29 left. Rubio came up big again, hitting a three from the Billie Nimnicht Court logo to put the Dolphins up eight, 89-81, with 4:49 left. Stetson would remain pesky the rest of the night, but in the end Jacksonville emerged victorious, 103-92.
The opening tip bounced Jacksonville's way for just the seventh time this season, but Stetson struck first on a driving layup from Larry Dennis. It looked like JU might go scoreless on its second possession as well after a missed Antwon Clayton layup, but a favorable bounce got the ball in Rubio's hands. The freshman from Maitland, Fla., hit a shot from just beyond the arc to start a 31-10 run that featured nine made three-pointers, two free throws, and just one two-point field goal. The Dolphins didn't score their first two-point basket until the 10:04 mark in the first, but were 9-12 from deep.
Over the final 10 minutes of the period the two teams traded punches; JU stretched its lead to as much as 26, 57-31, with 3:50 left, and Stetson got it down to 15, 57-42, with just 41 seconds left. But Rubio's 20 first-half points kept the Hatters at arms-reach, 59-42, at the end of the half.
- Four Dolphins have scored at least 30 points this season. Holder has done it twice with 30 at Denver and 39 at NJIT, Darius Dawkins had 41 against Middle Georgia State at home, Fernandez had 36 at home against Lipscomb, and Rubio had 31 at home against Stetson. The Dolphins are the only team in the NCAA with four different players that have scored at least 30 points this season.
- The Dolphins have now won 11 in a row at home against Stetson, and improve to 49-35 all-time in the series.
- The Dolphins are on the road for the next two games, at Florida Gulf Coast (16-6, 5-1 ASUN) on Saturday, January 28 and at Stetson (8-14, 1-5 ASUN) on January 30.
Baptist Health Postgame Press Conference - Head Coach Tony Jasick
Baptist Health Postgame Press Conference - Tanner Rubio