The 2015-16 season was a resurgent one for the Jacksonville Dolphins. They put together a strong showing throughout the regular season, finishing with a 16-15 record overall, and 8-6 in conference play. Jacksonville was a part of the three-way tie for second spot in the Atlantic Sun standings, and were awarded the 3-seed based on the tie-breaking procedures.
With the calendar turning to March, the Dolphins turned their attention to the post-season, and were looking to continue their strong play. The Lipscomb Bisons were their first opponent, and despite their sub-.500 record, the Dolphins had to be wary of the upset.
Lipscomb showed flashes during the regular season, but limped into the post-season having lost two of their last three games. But, the post-season is the start of a new season, and anything can happen when it’s one-and-done in the conference tournaments.
It took extra time, but the Lipscomb Bisons put together an upset-worthy performance. J.C. Hampton scored a game-high 35 points, and the Bisons went on the road and came away with the 92-89 overtime win over the Jacksonville Dolphins.
The first half was as back and forth as one can find in the basketball world. Less than four minutes into the game, Lipscomb opened up a 15-5 lead on a Cam Miller three-pointer at the 16:43 mark.
They would continue to hold the lead, but the Dolphins were slowly chipping away at the deficit. Darien Fernandez hit a three of his own at the 7:35 mark of the half, giving Jacksonville its first lead since the opening minutes, at 27-26.
Jacksonville would stretch their lead to as many as 7 points shortly thereafter, on a three from Josh Adeyeye with 5:13 to play.
This time, the roles were reversed, and it was Lipscomb’s turn to fight back. With Jacksonville in front 37-30, the Bisons reeled off a 14-2 run to close out the half, taking a 44-39 lead into the locker room.
Much like the first half, the second half saw both teams take a fairly large lead, only to see their opponent fight back and make it a game again.
Jacksonville quickly erased Lipscomb’s halftime lead, eliminating the deficit within the first five minutes. Kori Babineaux completed the comeback with a layup to give the home team a 51-50 lead. They would push their lead to 7, but just like the first half, they were unable to shake the Bisons for good.
Fernandez hit a pair of free throws to give Jacksonville a 69-62 lead at the midway point of the half, but the Bisons wouldn’t go quietly. Three straight layups for Lipscomb brought them back to within a single point, and the excitement was just getting started.
Jacksonville held onto the lead until Hampton hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 75-all with 2:50 to play. Just 43 seconds later, Miller completed a three-point play to give the Bisons a 78-76 advantage.
Timely free throws from both teams, and another layup from Hampton, kept the game tied down the stretch, Lipscomb had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Nathan Moran‘s three ball at the buzzer was off the mark, and the game was headed to overtime with the score 80-all.
Lipscomb drew first blood in the extra frame, as both Moran and Eli Pepper made one-of-two from the free throw line to give the Bisons an 82-80 cushion. Four straight points from Fernandez put the Dolphins back in front by 2, much to the delight of the home crowd.
Jacksonville fans were sitting uneasy, and for good reason. The Dolphins were never able to shake the Bisons, and the door for an upset was wide open. Lipscomb took full advantage of the opportunity.
Four straight points from Pepper pushed Lipscomb back in front, a position they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of overtime.
Moran made his free throws down the stretch with the pressure squarely on his shoulders, including the final two with 4 seconds left to put the Bisons ahead for good.
Back and forth they went, but in the end, the Lipscomb Bisons came away with the hard-fought upset win over the Jacksonville Dolphins, 92-89.
It was a big night for the Lipscomb Bisons, and their stars led them to the victory. J.C. Hampton scored a game-high 35 points, on 13-of-22 shooting from the floor, to lead the way. Hampton was also 7-of-8 from the free throw line.
Freshman Eli Pepper added 15 points and 9 rebounds, while Cam Miller and Garrison Mathews added 10 points apiece. Nathan Moran was 0-of-7 from the field, but 7-of-8 from the free throw line for 7 points.
On the Jacksonville side of the ball, the guard duo of Kori Babineaux and Josh Adeyeye were held in check for the most part on the night. Babineaux was held to just 13 points, on 6-of-13 shooting, while Adeyeye was limited to 10 points and 6 rebounds.
Darien Fernandez scored a team-high 31 points to go along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, while Marcel White added 27 points in the loss.
The win pushes the Lipscomb Bisons (12-20, 7-7) onto the semi-finals of the Atlantic Sun tournament. The upset win should give them an extra boost of momentum as they head back home to play for a spot in the conference finals. They take on the 7-seed Stetson Hatters, who upset the NJIT Highlanders in their quarter-final game.
With the loss, the Jacksonville Dolphins (16-16, 8-6) now take a wait-and-see approach to how the rest of their season plays out. Whether or not a post-season event comes calling, the Dolphins put together a strong showing that ended early in the eyes of many.
Tuesday night could very well have been the last time we saw Josh Adeyeye and Kori Babineaux in a Jacksonville uniform. Sad times.