JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The second half proved to be the difference as Jacksonville University (13-7, 1-2 ASUN) fell to USC Upstate (12-8, 2-1 ASUN) on Saturday enough. Tanner Rubio and Darien Fernandez combined to shoot 8-13 from deep but Spartans outlasted the first-half sharpshooting from the Dolphins and took 19 free throws in the second half.
"Give Upstate a lot of credit. They really increased their offensive efficiency in the second half," said Head Coach Tony Jasick. "They lived at the free throw line in the second half, and that's on us. We did not defend with the sense of urgency that you need to in order to win games at this level."
Over the final nine minutes of the first half JU made 10 of its final 16 attempts, and the Spartans made just three of their final 14 attempts. At the half the Dolphins led 37-31.
Jacksonville's defense in the first four-plus minutes of the second half was suffocating. The Spartans hit just one of their first six attempts, and JU quickly grew their six-point first half lead to 12 points, 45-33, with 14:13 left. But Michael Buchanan, who had just six points to that point, went to work at the post and scored five quick points to cut into the lead. Buchanan's efforts got the rest of the offense clicking, fueling a 40-21 run by the Spartans over the final 14 minutes of the game. The key to that resurgence was three-point shooting. In the first half Jacksonville was 8-13 from deep, and in the second half the Dolphins were just 2-11 from beyond the arc.