JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Bright performances from JD Notae, Jace Hogan, Jalyn Hinton, Radwan Bakkali, and Devin Harris were almost enough for Jacksonville University (3-7) Tuesday night at home against Milwaukee (6-3), but the Dolphins couldn't quite overcome a slow start to the second half, falling 62-52 to the Panthers.
"We've got to figure out a way to play for 40 minutes," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "We're struggling with putting two halves together, both offensively and defensively. We just need to keep plugging away each day and getting better. Our spurts of good basketball are getting longer, they're just not long enough."
The Panthers came out of the halftime locker room on fire offensively, scoring on each of their first five possessions. Jacksonville kept pace with a bucket from Harris, an old-fashioned three-point play from Radwan Bakkali, and a jumper from Hogan, and the Dolphins trailed by just three points, 36-33, with 17:19 left in the game.
Milwaukee started to pull away after the first media timeout, stretching its lead to 10 points, 46-36, on a 10-3 run. Out of the second media timeout Cody Helgeland nailed a three to cut that deficit to seven points, but Milwaukee immediately answered with a three of its own, leading by 10 again, 49-39. The Dolphins would cut the lead down to six again, 49-43, on a short jumper by Hogan (which gave him his eighth-consecutive game of double-digit scoring) and a transition dunk by Jalyn Hinton on an alley oop pass from Harris after Harris forced a turnover. Yet Milwaukee was able to answer each Jacksonville run with a run of its own, and held the Dolphins at arms-reach for the rest of the game, winning by 10, 62-52.
Jacksonville opened the game with 13-8 run, forcing the Panthers to turn the ball over three times in the first five minutes and forcing five missed shots, including the first of seven blocks on the night. Milwaukee came within one point on a 4-0 run out of the timeout, then neither team could score for about three minutes. A nifty spin move in the paint by Bakkali snapped the run, and the big man from London, England continue to pour in the offense, splitting a double team on the next possession to score again and give Jacksonville a 19-12 lead. After Milwaukee dropped in two points on a double-team split of its own, Harris answered with two free throws on the other end, stretching JU's lead back to seven points, 21-14. A masterful pass from Hogan to Notae gave Jacksonville a nine-point lead, 23-14, with 5:16 left.
Milwaukee was pesky the closing five minutes, outscoring Jacksonville 12-3 to wrap the half. JU's offense came from Notae, who nailed the first three-pointer made by either team with 4:23 remaining in the period. The two teams shot a combined 2-16 from beyond the arc in the first half, and the score was tied 26-26.