Santos' Heroics, Norman's Big Night Lead Jacksonville to Dramatic Victory

Santos' Heroics, Norman's Big Night Lead Jacksonville to Dramatic Victory

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LOWELL, Mass. – The Jacksonville University men's basketball team (2-2) faced a true road test in its first game of the River Hawk Invitational, matching up with host UMass Lowell (2-3) and taking this one down to the wire to claim a dramatic, 80-78, victory.

Junior Kevin Norman came off the bench to net a career-best 21 points in just 25 minutes on 8-10 shooting from the floor, 3-4 from deep, to go with seven boards and a couple of steals to pace the scoring effort. He canned multiple big-time buckets when the Dolphins needed it most, but it was senior Aamahne Santos that knocked down the clutch free throws to ice this game.

In a tie game, Santos drove the lane, drew a foul and earned two free throws. With three seconds left on the game clock, the Dorchester, Mass. native, playing in front of a large crowd of friends and family, buried both tries to put the Dolphins ahead for good. A half-court heave at the buzzer was not near the mark for the River Hawks. Santos finished with 16 points and six assists over 38 minutes of action – his third double-digit effort already this season after accomplishing that just four times in all of 2018-19.

As a team, Jacksonville shot a season-best 49.2 percent from the floor, which includes a 12-25 mark from long range, while limiting itself to just 11 turnovers. The 12 made triples are tied for ninth-most in a single game in program history.

DeAnthony McCallum started the game off with a bang, picking up a steal and score to put the Dolphins ahead early. JAX led by as many as seven points in the first half after Santos shook his defender, stepped back and buried a long three-ball. While Norman closed the half with a team-high 10 points, Destin Barnes was heating up from the field as well. He had eight points at the break on 3-8 shooting and 2-5 from deep.

Trey Sides ripped a triple to begin the second half and later David Bell flushed a dunk, his second of the game to put JAX up three with 17:29 to play. Bell finished the game with 13 points and six boards to go with a pair of blocks in a breakout effort for him. He was comfortable in the paint and had his best shooting night of the season, going 6-7 from the floor.

Jacksonville pushed back into its largest lead of the game at the 13:38 mark when a missed shot on the defensive end led to a fast break opportunity. Santos found Barnes open from long-range, but the shot caromed high off the rim. It was then that Norman came flying in off the break to slam home the putback and send the bench along with the multitude of Jacksonville fans in attendance into a frenzy.

UMass Lowell battled back, however, eventually knotting the game at 60 with 9:03 left. The game ended up having 12 lead changes with many of them coming down the stretch.

The Dolphins took the lead, 68-66, on a pair of Santos free throws with 5:02 to play, leading to one of the more significant sequences in the game. Christian Lutete drew a foul on the other end but missed both free throws that could have tied the game. Instead, Norman collected the board after the second miss, pushed the ball up the floor and found Bryce Workman who broke down his man, spun and found Barnes rotating in behind him for his fifth triple of the game to put the Dolphins up five with 4:33 left. Barnes finished with a career-best 17 points and five boards over 34 minutes.

Jacksonville led by four, 78-74, with 52 seconds left after McCallum converted a driving lay-in but the River Hawks scored on each of their next two possessions, setting up Santos' heroics in the closing moments.

The Dolphins will get limited rest and be right back at it on Saturday afternoon with a 1:30 p.m. tip set with Ivy League foe Dartmouth. JAX leads the all-time series with Dartmouth 1-0 with the lone meeting coming in back in 1967.

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