Tag: Jacksonville Dolphins

Jacksonville Rides Impressive First Half to Win over Lipscomb

The Jacksonville Dolphins shot a season high 65.5 percent in the first half and held Lipscomb to 31.3 percent as they rolled to a 87-69 win on Saturday. The win propelled the Dolphins to their first 3-0 start in Atlantic Sun Conference play in 10 years.

“I thought we did a really good job of being locked in on what we were trying to do,” Jacksonville head coach Tony Jasick said.

One of the things they were trying to do was limit Bisons’ junior guard Garrison Matthews. Matthews came into the game averaging over 23 points per contest, but was held to only 3 points in the first half. It was a part of the scouting report that Jasick said he emphasized going into the game.

“We felt like we had to give Garrison Matthews all kinds of attention,” Jasick said. “I thought our guys did a really good job of limiting his effectiveness for most of the game.”

On the other side of the ball, the Dolphins’ backcourt of senior guard Devin Harris and freshman guard J.D. Notae scored 19 and 21 points respectively; with both scoring 11 in the first half. Notae was especially impressive as he scored at all three levels.

“I’m very comfortable,” Notae said. “I seem like I fit in real well with my team so I feel like I just go out there and play the game.”

In the first half, the Dolphins used their hot shooting in conjunction with great defense in a performance Bisons just couldn’t match.

In addition to holding Lipscomb to poor shooting, Jacksonville also forced 11 turnovers. The only issue Jacksonville had in the first half is shooting 5-14 from the free-throw line.

However, even that didn’t stop the Dolphins from carrying a 20-point lead into halftime at 47-27.

The second half started in a similar fashion as Jacksonville was able to grab a 59-35 lead. The Bisons would then go on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 17 at the under-12 timeout at 59-42.

The Dolphins stopped the bleeding and stretched the lead back out to 20 at the under-4 timeout at 74-54.

Then the Bisons started playing pressure defense and forced the Dolphins into several turnovers and even cutting the lead down to 10 at one point. The Dolphins were able to regain their composure and eventually pulled away with the 18-point win.

Matthews was able to get some buckets in garbage time and finished with 23.

The game marked the third time this season Jacksonville shot over 60 percent in a half this season and it was their largest margin of victory over Lipscomb ever.

The Dolphins return to the court on Thursday when they travel to USC Upstate while Lipscomb plays host to Florida Gulf Coast the same evening.

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The #RiverCityRumble was College Hoops at it’s Finest

Ivan Gandia-Rose
UNF’s Ivan Gandia-Rose (21) struggles against Jacksonville’s J.D. Notae (1), Cody Helgeland (33) and Antwon Clayton (25)

I know no one outside of the city of Jacksonville cared much about what happened Saturday night at UNF Arena. However, those who cared enough to make it inside were treated to two rivals, the North Florida (UNF) Ospreys and Jacksonville Dolphins, trading body blows for 40 minutes with the Dolphins coming away with a 90-86 win.

“As a basketball player if you don’t like this environment – a hostile environment, where you can go up-and-down and dunk and be athletic and shoot the ball when you get stops then I don’t know what else you want,” Jacksonville senior guard Devin Harris said. “You’re playing the game everybody wish they could play.”

It was an enthusiastic crowd all game long. UNF fans showed up with “Beat JU” shirts and screamed at the Dolphins during the layup line to let them know they meant it. Among those fans were several former Ospreys; each one greeted by UNF head coach Matthew Driscoll with a hug. Even they knew it was big.

Once the action on the floor began, the fans got louder and had a great game to match. The game was free-flowing with run after run. There was UNF pushing the ball even after made baskets. Then there was Jacksonville, running pick and roll after pick and roll.

“You gotta give them credit,” Driscoll said. “They fought back like we fought back. They took the lead after we took the lead.”

It had a key player for Jacksonville heading to the bench – allowing for what seemed to be a back-breaking run for the Ospreys, before a freshman took the game over.

What makes this even more fascinating, is how this wasn’t even a game that would count on a NCAA tournament resume 15-years-ago.

UNF is fairly new to Division I athletics – playing its first season as a full member in 2009-2010. Since then the program won two regular season Atlantic Sun championships in 2015 and 2016 and went to its first NCAA tournament in 2015. They made it all the way to the Atlantic Sun Championship game last season before losing to Florida Gulf Coast.

By contrast, Jacksonville has struggled since UNF became full members. The Dolphins haven’t won a regular season Atlantic Sun title since that 2009-2010 season. They haven’t been to the Big Dance since 1986 and before Saturday’s win, they hadn’t beaten the Ospreys since Feb. 15, 2013.

That was the state of both programs before entering Saturday’s game. From the outset it seemed this one would be different. The Dolphins were getting healthy and went toe-to-toe with the Ospreys for much of the first half as the score was 22-19 at the second media timeout. That’s when UNF’s pace seem to take over. The Ospreys outscored the Dolphins 26-19 over the last 9:19 of the first half to take a 52-42 lead at the half.

The second half began in similar fashion as the Ospreys took a 12 point lead on a layup by sophomore forward Noah Horchler with just 30 seconds gone from the half. From that moment, the Dolphins would outscore the Ospreys 22-5 to take a 64-59 lead with 12:55 remaining in the game.

The teams traded scores before Jacksonville’s 70-65 lead with 9:39 remaining. That’s when UNF answered with their 13-0 run, partly with Harris on the bench, to take a 78-70 lead with 6:04 remaining.

This was the moment of the game when the Dolphins seem to be on the ropes. The crowd was at its loudest and it seemed like the momentum had shifted for good. This is when Jacksonville freshman guard J.D. Notae took over.

Notae scored 14 of his 25 points over the last 5:38 to help the Dolphins to a 18-6 run and steal the game on the road. Not only cementing his place in the rivalry, but doing things the opposing coach said he was expecting as he saw Notae a lot on the recruiting trail.

“The thing about Notae is he has a scorer’s mentality. He’s always had a scorer’s mentality,” said Driscoll. “He’s a Georgia kid who played with one of our Georgia kids and we saw him a lot. He really has a great feel for who he is, what he is and what he wants to do.”

It was first game of conference play for both teams and they’ll both have to regroup quickly. However, they play again on Feb. 22 at Historic Swisher Gym on Jacksonville’s campus. You can’t help, but look forward to another classic matchup.

Let the Tournaments Begin

For the next couple of days, I’ll be giving previews/prediction of mid-major conference tournaments.  Today we’re going to begin with the big South, Ohio Valley, Horizon League, and the Atlantic Sun.

Liberty G Seth Curry
Liberty G Seth Curry

Big South: This is a conference that I’ve been watching all season long.  There’s VMI whom opened the season with a win at Kentucky and then led the country in scoring.  Watching how perennial Big South powerhouse Winthrop handled a rebuilding year.  Then there’s Seth Curry at Liberty who can score just like his big brother.  With that in mind, how did Radford win the regular season crown?  The Highlanders were consistent throughout league play and were far and away the best team in the league.  I expect the Highlanders to cruise to the finals next Saturday where they’ll play Liberty.  Unfortunately for Radford, I’m not betting against a Curry in a tournament setting.  Seth can put the Flames on his back just as Stephen can.  Liberty is going back to the Big Dance.

Tennessee-Martin G Lester Hudson
Tennessee-Martin G Lester Hudson

Ohio Valley: Austin Peay, Eastern Kentucky, and Murray St are knocking on the door.  That should come as no surprise as these three schools have collected all of the OVC’s automatic bids since 2001.  These teams all have a win over the OVC’s regular season champion, Tennessee-Martin.  The Skyhawks’ Lester Hudson is among the nation’s leaders in scoring and is a leading candidate for OVC Player of the Year.  Can he lead them to a trip to the NCAA Tournament.  I believe he will and he’ll do it in spectacular fashion.

Horizon League: They’re praying in College Station, TX.  They’re praying in Ann Arbor, MI.  They’re praying in Providence, RI.  They’re praying that Butler cuts the nets down in Indianapolis next Tuesday.  The Bulldogs nowhere near untouchable.  They’ve lost three games in conference and have been pushed to the limit twice by Cleveland State.  I expect to see Butler in the finals along with Wisconsin-Green Bay, a team that caused one of the three conference losses Butler has suffered.  The Phoenix will have the Bulldogs un-divided attention and Butler will repeat as conference tournament champs.

Atlantic Sun: Jacksonville wins the Atlantic Sun regular season crown and it’s reward in the semi-finals of the A-Sun tournament could be Lipscomb, the tournament’s host.  Such is life for the Dolphins, but I guarantee you they’ll take the situation they’re in right now.  I think it’s going to be very difficult for Jacksonville to navigate through a tournament, played in Nashville, when the 2-4 seeds are all from the state of Tennessee.  The #3 seed, Belmont has been here and has done this.  The Bruins will do it again.  They’ll be a dangerous #16 seed in the tournament too.

This week’s Bracket Projections:

Last Four In: Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Miami(FL)

Last Four Out: Florida, St. Mary’s, Virginia Tech, Providence

EAST

1.Connecticut16.Cal St Northridge Philadelphia, PA

8.Tennessee9.Texas A&M

5.Clemson12.Utah St Portland, OR

4.Xavier13.Siena

6.Marquette11.Michigan Philadelphia, PA

3.Wake Forest14.American

7.BYU10.Arizona Kansas City, MO

2.Memphis15.Bowling Green

WEST

1.Oklahoma16.Cornell Kansas City, MO

8.Boston College9.South Carolina

5.Illinois12.Davidson Miami, FL

4.Villanova13.Binghampton

6.Gonzaga11.Penn St Portland, OR

3.Washington14.Weber St

7.West Virginia10.Dayton Greensboro, NC

2.Duke15.Radford

SOUTH

1.Pittsburgh16.Tenn-Martin/Alabama St Dayton, OH

8.Wisconsin9.Creighton

5.Utah12.Maryland Boise, ID

4.Missouri13.Virginia Commonwealth

6.California11.Miami(FL) Miami, FL

3.LSU14.Stephen F. Austin

7.Butler10.Oklahoma St Minneapolis, MN

2.Michigan St15.Morgan St

MIDWEST

1.North Carolina16.Jacksonville Greensboro, NC

8.Syracuse9.Texas

5.UCLA12.Kentucky Boise, ID

4.Purdue13.Western Kentucky

6.Florida St11.UNLV Minneapolis, MN

3.Kansas14.North Dakota St

7.Arizona St10.Ohio St Dayton, OH

2.Louisville15.Robert Morris