JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In a game in which the Dolphins never trailed, Jacksonville University earned an 18-point, 88-70 win over Webber International in Historic Swisher Gym on Monday. JU was led by a career-best 23 points from Devin Harris, who also had his second career double-double with 11 boards.
"Wasn't pretty at times," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "We still have a group that needs to get more comfortable and confident playing together. We've got a lot of guys that are thrust into certain roles, and at times it looks smooth. At other times it's as if we're trying to put a round peg in a square hole. We're at the point where we're practicing well, but we need to be able to translate that into the game. We'll get there."
"Tonight, we dialed in," said Harris. "Having Hogan and some of the other leadership out there was great. I didn't really care about it being a career night for me. I just wanted the win. Now we're going to try to snowball this into the next three games over Thanksgiving Break."
A slow start to the second half threatened the Dolphins' comfortable lead; Webber strung together a 7-2 run that pulled the Warriors within 13, 48-35. A combo of Jalyn Hinton, JD Notae, and Radwan Bakkali stopped that run and swung momentum back the Dolphins' way; the trio outscored Webber 9-4 and put JU out front by 18, 57-39, with 16:11 left in the game.
But Webber continued to play pesky; the Warriors hit two threes, an 18-footer, and a layup for a 10-0 run that cut Jacksonville's lead to 8 points, 57-49, with 14:23 left. But Harris hit two free throws to snap that run, and Lee Richmond stole a pass and turned that into two points on the other end, pushing JU's lead back to 12, 61-49.
A third Webber run cut JU's lead to just seven points, 62-55, as JU turned the ball over twice and missed three shots. But Jace Hogan played the hero, snapping that final Warrior run with a demonstrative and-one off an offensive rebound, giving the junior transfer from Navy a second game of double-digit scoring. With 9:40 left, JU led by 10, 67-57.
JU would lead by at least 10 for the rest of the game as Notae and Bakkali also reached double figures. An 11-5 run by JU put the lead at 16, 80-64, with 4:12 left; that run was capped by a transition three by Tanner Rubio from Notae. In the closing stretch the Dolphin defense made Webber go 2-10 from the field and forced three more turnovers, totaling 24 forced turnovers on the night. A cheap bucket with seven seconds left on the clock cut the lead from 20, 88-68, to 18, 88-70, the final score of the game.
Jacksonville's defense took a stand from the opening tip, wrestling the ball away from Webber to get the first offensive possession of the game. After that opening play the Dolphins doubled up the Warriors for the first five minutes, leading 16-8 after forcing four turnovers and a 3-8 shooting performance from the Warriors. The Dolphin defense strengthened even more over the next eight minutes, forcing four more turnovers and a 1-9 mark from the floor. With 7:37 left in the half, JU had again doubled up Webber International, leading 28-14. 10 of those 28 belonged to Harris.
Webber made things a bit interesting over the closing minutes of the period, pulling within nine points, 30-21, with just about five minutes remaining. But Hogan started going to work, snapping the Webber run with a mini-run of his own, scoring four straight. Harris poured in three more on a layup-and-one, and Rubio hit a transition three from Harris that put the margin at its highest yet, 18 points, with 3:37 left. Harris's final bucket of the half gave JU a 20-point lead, 42-22, with 2:50 on the clock, and two free throws by Bakkali with one minute in the half gave JU the game's highest lead, 22 points, at 46-24. But consecutive transition buckets by the Warriors cut that half-time margin to 18, 46-28.
Harris's previous career best of 19 points also came at home, against South Carolina State on Dec. 31, 2016.