JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Marcel White dropped 22 points and made six three-pointers, but Jacksonville University (15-12, 3-7 ASUN) dropped a heartbreaking game against USC Upstate (16-11, 6-4 ASUN), 70-67, Thursday night at Historic Swisher Gym. The Dolphins rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to tie the game with under three minutes remaining, but a last-second turnover proved their undoing.
"Tale of two halves," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "In the first half we were pretty good; we executed our stuff both offensively and defensively for the most part. In the second half … Give Upstate some credit. I thought that they had something to do with the way the game went, but we also came out of half time with really bad energy and effort. We were on our heels the rest of the game."
The Spartans opened the half on a 13-0 run and Jacksonville was held scoreless until the 13:37 mark on a J.R. Holder lay-in. The run swelled to 26-4 before White drilled a three from the right wing with 9:33 remaining. The JU trifecta success in the first half wasn't mimicked in the latter period, as White's three was one of five successes in 19 second half attempts. However, White knocked down back-to-back treys with 2:25 remaining to knot the score at 64.
Spartan center Michael Buchanan scored the next four points to give the Spartans a lead they would not relinquish. Cody Helgeland chipped the lead down to a point with a three from the right corner with 19 seconds remaining.
After an Andris Misters intentional foul, Jure Span made the front-end of a one-and-one, but his next shot was offline and rebounded by Buchanan. The center missed his free throw and Misters, who finished with 14 points, plucked the board with 13 seconds left, but Jacksonville turned the ball over on its final possession.
Buchanan finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Spartans scored 36 points in the paint.
Both teams flexed their muscles on the defensive efforts to start the contest, with the scoreboard silent until USC Upstate's Josh Cuthbertson layup with 17:11 gave the game its first score. JU answered as White proceeded to open the three-point floodgates with consecutive treys. His long-distance connections paved the way for an eight for 17 three-point mark for JU in the half.
Both teams had separate struggles in the half, with the Spartans plagued by turnovers and the Dolphins up to their hips in fouls. Jacksonville came away with four steals in the half and scored 13 of its points off eight Spartan turnovers, while the visitors from Spartanburg, S.C. made six of 11 free throws thanks to 11 Dolphin fouls.
White and Misters each produced 11 points in the half to lead the Dolphins, with both draining a trio of treys en route to a 42-30 Dolphin lead.
Baptist Health Postgame Press Conference - Tony Jasick