Jacksonville went toe-to-toe with Mercer for 45 minutes, but could have used just a little more time as the Dolphins came up short in a 67-64 overtime loss on Thursday night in Hawkins Arena. JU (12-13; 7-5 A-Sun) now sits in a three-way tie for third in the league standings with Stetson and USC Upstate. Mercer (15-9; 8-3) has a game and a half lead over the trio for second, but still a half-game back of Florida Gulf Coast.
Freshman Jarvis Haywood led four players in double figures for Jacksonville with 13 points while junior Javon Dawson added 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Dawson scored all six of the Dolphins’ points in overtime, tying the game twice with a pair of free throws and again with a short jumper. Haywood and Dawson have combined to win the last four A-Sun Newcomer of the Week Awards for JU.
With JU down by three following a go-ahead three pointer by Mercer’s Travis Smith (14 points) with 30 seconds left, the Dolphins looked to the 6’6” University of Utah transfer once again. Dawson had two highly contest looks from three but could not get the equalizer to fall forcing JU to split the season series with the Bears.
The Dolphins shot 1-9 in overtime, but were kept alive by the 4-4 showing at the foul line from Dawson.
“We were down double figures in the first half and made a valiant effort to come back,” said Head Coach Cliff Warren. “Unfortunately we had a couple of lulls in the game when we missed a few block outs allowing them to get some offensive rebounds. We also gave them a few too many open looks from three in the first half.”
Freshman Kordario Fleming posted his third double-double of the season for JU as he matched a career best with 11 rebounds to go along with 10 points, three blocks and two assists. None of his rebounds were bigger then his offensive putback with 10 seconds left in regulation that gave the Dolphins a 58-57 advantage.
Mercer’s Langston Hall (23 points) then had a chance to give the Bears the win from the foul line, but the 88.1 percent free throw shooter missed the second of two attempts with 3.6 seconds left. Junior Dylan Fritsch (10 points) secured the rebound to force the extra session.
In the first half JU answered a 15-2 run by Mercer with a 12-2 stretch to close out the opening period. Haywood scored five points during the spurt that pulled the Dolphins to within two (27-25) at the break. The opening five minutes of the second period was highlighted by five lead changes and two ties before Mercer built a seven point cushion with a 13-5 stretch over an eight minute span.
JU would then slowing start chipping away and eventually pulled to within one on a three by senior Russell Powell (Newnan, Ga.) with 1:15 left that set up the Fleming to give the Dolphins the lead.