RICHMOND, Ky. – Trailing by 16 points on the road with just over five minutes left on the clock, Jacksonville University (3-6) showed incredible resiliency Saturday night by outscoring Eastern Kentucky (4-4) 18-2 in the final five minutes of the game, forcing overtime tied 59-59. But momentum swung back to the home team in the extra period, and Eastern Kentucky escaped with a 70-65 victory over JU.
"We've got to get better at playing the game to our strengths," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "We've got a lot of new guys, but we've got to continue to grow. So give credit to our young players. They competed their butts off the last six minutes. There's a lot we need to clean up, but it is fixable. This team is still trying to figure out who they are, how they need to play, and get comfortable with that early in the year. Hopefully we get that sooner than later."
Neither team made its first shot attempt as Eastern Kentucky missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and Jacksonville missed a driving jumper, but after a Jacksonville three clanged off the rim and into Colonel hands, EKU hit a three on the other end to take a three-point lead, 62-59, about a minute in. A traveling violation led to another Eastern three attempt, which missed, but Hogan was called for a foul as he tried to rebound the miss, which led to another 1-and-1 attempt for Eastern. This time the Colonels made both, taking a five-point lead, 64-59, with just under four minutes left.
Jacksonville got its first bucket of the extra period on a put-back dunk from Jalyn Hinton, who again played the role of team energizer. He had another put-back dunk on the following possession after blocking a shot on the other end. The freshman totaled six points, five boards, three blocks, and one steal on the night. Four of his six points came in the overtime period.
Following a miss by Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville called a timeout, trailing by just one, 64-63, with 1:22 left. The Dolphins ran a play with the ball ending up beyond the arc, but the three-point attempt narrowly missed, rolling off the rim and into the hands of Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels ran down the court and though Jacksonville defended the possession well, EKU was able to make a layup with just one second on the shot clock, taking a 66-63 lead with about 55 seconds remaining. The Dolphins turned the ball over, and Eastern hit four of six free throw attempts to close out the game. The final from the McBrayer Arena inside the Alumni Coliseum – Eastern Kentucky 70, Jacksonville 65.
The Colonels were on fire out of the halftime locker room, making each of its first five shot attempts to go on a 10-0 run. EKU led by eight, 39-31, with about 17 minutes left. Cody Helgeland snapped that run with a three from NBA range, and Jace Hogan hit back-to-back buckets to lower the Eastern Kentucky lead to just three points, 41-38, about a minute later.
EKU's hot start continued for the next 10 minutes, with every call going the Colonels' way, every circus shot dropping through the net, and every no-look pass finding waiting hands. Jacksonville scored just one bucket, a driving layup by JD Notae, during that time as Eastern Kentucky outscored the Dolphins 16-3. The Colonels led by 16, 57-41, with about six and a half minutes left.
But JU showed incredible resiliency, refusing to give up in the face of such adversity. The Dolphins forced misses on the Colonels' final six shot attempts and four turnovers as they came roaring back on the efforts of Devin Harris, Hogan, and Helgeland. Jacksonville made five of its final 10 shot attempts and seven of its final eight free throws to go on an 18-2 run in the closing six minutes.
Perhaps the most important free throws came when Jacksonville was trailing by four, 59-54, with just over a minute left. Eastern Kentucky inbounded the ball and drove down the court, but their point guard ran into a Dolphin wall. The ball handler stumbled and appeared to travel, but instead called a timeout as he was falling out of bounds. Except the Colonels had no timeouts left after losing one when EKU's head coach asked for a review, which earned Jacksonville two technical foul free throws. Helgeland nailed both, pulling Jacksonville back within two, 59-57, with 1:05 left.
Eastern Kentucky missed its final shot attempt of regulation, and Helgeland caught a pass near the top of the key with just 15 seconds on the clock. He missed the attempt, but the ball bounced to an awaiting Hogan under the basket. Hogan immediately put one up, but had to attempt to tip the ball in twice before finally tying the game up, 59-59.
Eastern Kentucky grabbed the opening tip and scored first on a twisting layup in the lane, but Jacksonville answered with a 6-0 run on buckets by Devin Harris, Radwan Bakkali, and Notae. EKU responded in kind, stringing together 7 points to retake the lead, 9-6, at the first media stoppage. Hogan nailed two free throws out of the stoppage to cut that lead down to just one, 9-8, but another 4-0 run by the Colonels put the score at 13-8 EKU about a minute later. Jacksonville pulled within one point on the strength of five straight from Notae, but Eastern reached its largest lead of the half, six points, 19-13, with just under 12 minutes left. A three from Helgeland got Jacksonville going; the Dolphins outscored the Colonels 18-10 in the final 12 minutes, taking a 31-29 lead into the halftime locker room.
- Hogan led the Dolphins in scoring with 20 points. That marks his seventh consecutive game scoring in double figures. He's the first Dolphin since at least the 1999-2000 season to score at least 10 points in each of his first seven games as a Dolphin.
- Hogan also had 10 rebounds, his third consecutive double-double. Jacksonville had just two double-doubles by the entire team in the 2016-17 season. Hogan now has four on the year, joined by Harris with two and Notae with one.
- Harris continues to fill up the stat sheet. The reigning ASUN Player of the Week had seven points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block.
- Notae had 11 points on the night, as well as five steals and four rebounds.
- Helgeland was the third Dolphin in double-digits with 15 points. He had five boards, one assist, and one steal.