JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a game that truly lived up to its reputation as a River City Rumble, Jacksonville University (17-15, 5-9 ASUN) took crosstown rival University of North Florida (14-18, 8-6 ASUN) down to the wire in a game that featured four lead changes, four ties, and a technical foul. In the end, the Dolphins fell to the Ospreys 77-74 Monday night in the quarterfinal round of the ASUN Conference tournament.
"I thought there were a few areas that were extremely important to us," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "One of those was that we wanted to take care of the ball, and North Florida had 19 points off our turnovers. We had five or six pick sixes, and that just provides momentum to a team like this. They're gonna be hard to beat when they get in a rhythm."
Both teams opened the second half with turnovers, but over the next five minutes UNF outscored JU 12-4 and led by eight, 41-35. JU chipped the lead down to five on a deep three from Marcel White, but an 8-0 run from Dallas Moore and Garrett Sams gave the Ospreys their largest lead of the night, 53-40, with just 11:56 left. JU again knocked the lead down to five points on a White three and a transition dunk by Antwon Clayton, but the Ospreys responded with a 4-0 run of their own to keep the Dolphins at arms-reach, 59-50, with 7:35 left.
Nevertheless, Jacksonville wasn't ready for its season to end just yet. The Ospreys started to get in foul trouble, which helped fuel a 15-7 run by the Dolphins. With 4:39 left Darien Fernandez pulled the game within one point, 66-65, on an acrobatic layup after he stole the ball from Moore. UNF again stretched the lead to four points, 72-68, on four made free throws from Moore.
On the following play Omar El Manasterly fouled UNF's Wajid Aminu on a rebound, and after the foul El Manasterly and the Ospreys' Osborn Blount got into a jawing match that quickly turned into a technical for Blount. Aminu missed both of his free throws on the Osprey end, and Andris Misters hit both of his technicals to pull JU within two, 72-70, with 1:46 remaining. Moore missed a three on the other end, giving JU a chance to tie or take the lead.
After a foul Fernandez hit one of two free throws, and Garrett Sams hit a three on the other end to stretch the lead to four, 75-71, with 24 seconds on the clock. Fernandez hit a three to pull JU within one again with 15 seconds left, but the Dolphins fouled Sams on the Ospreys' inbounds play. The freshman hit both free throws, and Fernandez missed his final three-point attempt as the clock expired.
Neither team shot very efficiently in the opening minutes; JU was held scoreless in its first five possessions and UNF scored just twice in its first seven. North Florida took an early 10-9 lead on the strength of 10 points from Dallas Moore, but JU overtook the Ospreys on baskets from Omar El Manasterly, White, and Fernandez. Chris Davenport became the second Osprey to score in the game on a free throw with 11:18 left in the half, tying the game at 11-11. The rest of the half lived up to the rivalry's name as JU and UNF rumbled through a physical, paint-focused battle in the closing 11 minutes. The Ospreys would lead by as much as five, but a big three-point bucket from Darius Dawkins cut the lead down to just one point, 32-31, at the half.
Highlights of the 2017 ASUN Conference Tournament Quarterfinals