Jacksonville Sports Day

ASUN: Liberty Takes Advanatge of JU Turnovers in Victory

JACKSONVILLE  – The Jacksonville University men’s basketball team (9-9, 3-5 ASUN) battled from behind for much of the night opposite Liberty (14-5, 6-2 ASUN) on Saturday but a late surge nearly allowed the Dolphins to steal this one away, 64-58.

Dontarius James put forth another sterling performance scoring the basketball, collecting 27 points on 10-19 shooting to go with three boards and three steals.

Once again only Tyreese Davis joined him in double figures with 12. Mo Arnold led the team in rebounding from the guard spot with eight, followed closely by Bryce Workman who put up seven and seven.

Liberty created the difference in the game by capitalizing on 14 JU turnovers, scoring 22 points against just seven for the Dolphins. Liberty led by nine at the break and by as many as 10 but Jacksonville battled, even outscoring the Flames in the second half, 39-36.

Liberty jumped ahead by five before James scored his first points of the night on a floater in the lane. His turnaround jumper at the 16:24 mark game JU it’s only lead of the game, 6-5 but Liberty answered on the other end immediately.

The Flames pushed ahead by six with 12:56 left in the half but a Derrick Flowers triple, his first since the Kansas State game in December, cut the deficit in half.

The sea saw continued as each time the Dolphins pulled to within a possession or two, Liberty answered to push it back to three or four. Ultimately, a Darius McGhee triple as the buzzer left the Dolphins with a 28-19 deficit at the break. James had nine points on 4-7 from the floor at the break but had already collected three fouls.

Jacksoniville came out of the locker room hot. Sides knocked down a triple, James put his defender on skates and flushed a dunk at the 17:52 mark and Mo Arnold scored his lane bucket of the night and suddenly we had a two-point game with 17:17 to play. A Workman free throw pulled JU to within one with 16:21 to go but Liberty responded with a 9-0 run to make it 39-29 with 14:15 left.

The 10-point lead was trimmed to seven on a James three ball at the 12:16 mark and later got down to four when Davis converted inside on the break to make it 45-41. The Liberty lead ballooned up to nine by the 6:42 which is when JU made its last real push to get over the hump.

Sides canned a triple as did James followed by a free throw later from Davis to cut make this one on a four-point game with 4:43 left to play. The Flames kept JU at an arms-length the rest of the way as Jacksonville never brough the lead inside of three following that push. After some back and forth down the stretch, Liberty was able to salt away the victory.

Next up for Jacksonville will be a trip to new ASUN foe Bellarmine in Louisville, Ky. on Feb. 5-6. Both games will air on ESPN+.

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