Jacksonville University’s new faces brought an end to the old streak.
Now, the Dolphins’ losing run in the River City Rumble is no more.
Freshmen J.D. Notae and Jalyn Hinton led a furious scoring surge down the stretch, leading JU past cross-town rival North Florida in a 90-86 at UNF Arena in Saturday night’s A-Sun Conference opener.
Notae scored 25 points and Hinton added 22, pouring on the offense with a closing 13-2 run and giving head coach Tony Jasick his first-ever win in the rivalry. He entered the game 0-7 and UNF had won the last nine meetings.
“I’m proud of those two guys tonight,” Jasick said. “Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.”
Hinton gave the Dolphins (7-11) the lead with a dunk off Antwon Clayton’s assist with 30 seconds to play, then put the game away by sinking two clutch free throws to seal JU’s first win over the Ospreys (6-12) since edging UNF 70-68 on Feb. 15, 2013.
In a streaky and unpredictable game, with both teams trading 13-0 runs during the second half, the least experienced players made some of the biggest impacts.
“They made a lot of toughness plays that were key plays when they had to have them,” UNF coach Matthew Driscoll said.
The game began to turn at the 1:21 mark of the first half, when Ospreys forward Wajid Aminu landed awkwardly on his right ankle and hobbled off, eventually appearing on crutches on the sideline.
“He was kind of playing like Wajid was playing in his freshman year, and it felt like Wajid was back,” Driscoll said.
At that point, UNF held a 51-40 lead and, in contrast to their Birds of Trey nickname, had controlled the paint - 30 interior points to JU’s 22, and 22 rebounds to 19.
Aminu had 9 points and 6 rebounds at the time, and after he exited, JU went to work on the inside. The Dolphins scored 13 consecutive points early in the second half, taking the lead on Hinton’s thunderous dunk off Clayton’s assist, before the Ospreys swooped back into the lead on a 13-0 run of their own.
Then, Notae came to life on offense. The freshman had just 5 points in the first 26 minutes, but racked up 20 more in the last 14 minutes.
“It started on the defensive end. When we were getting stops and getting it to our offense, it was just flowing,” Notae said.
“He has a great feel for who he is and what he wants to do,” Driscoll said. “He’s not shaken by anything.”
He scored on four layups and a pair of threes in a span of about four minutes down the stretch, giving the Dolphins an 86-84 lead on an assist from Devin Harris.
“I thought that his burst really helped us on the offensive end,” Jasick said.
Ivan Gandia-Rosa tied the score on a layup with 52 seconds left, before Hinton’s go-ahead basket. UNF’s final chance vanished when Noah Horchler was stripped and Hinton drew a foul under the rim, leading to his clinching free throws.
Freshman Trip Day scored a career-high 19 points to lead the Ospreys, while Osborn Blount added 14 for his highest career total against a Division I opponent.
The Dolphins reached 90 points for the first time in River City Rumble history.
Now, there’s another first for the Dolphins, who enter ASUN play with a win over their rivals for the first time under Jasick - and for veterans like Harris, that’s a sweet thing.
“As a basketball player, man, if you don’t like this environment, a hostile environment where you go up and down and dunk and be athletic and shoot the ball… I don’t know what you’d want,” he said.