KENNESAW – Kevion Nolan scored 32 points, including 23 in the second half, to help Jacksonville beat Kennesaw State at the start of the ASUN conference on Friday at the KSU Convocation Center.
In a running game, it was Nolan who made the final breakout, scoring 16 of his team’s last 22 points, including a 3-pointer with 2:15 left to play to beat the Dolphins (7-4, 1-0) their first guided tour of the game.
In those final moments, Jacksonville was finally about to wipe out Kennesaw State’s lead that was between 43 and 29 towards the middle of the second half.
The loss dropped the Owls to 3-6 that season, marking their 18th straight loss in the conference that dates back to the 2018-19 season.
“That loss is 100% mine,” said Kennesaw State coach Amir Abdur-Rahim. “We play a lot of young people and leadership is very important. I better get them in the right places. That’s why it’s up to me. “
The owls had two 14 point heads during the game. The first came when they opened a 16-2 lead and looked like they were going to blow Jacksonville out of the gym.
However, the Dolphins, who played without ASUN’s top scorer Dontarius James, began to bring Nolan into the flow of the game and they began to tear down the lead. They came within one at 21-20, but a pair of free throws from Spencer Rodgers and a 3-pointer from Amani Harris allowed Kennesaw State to hold a 26-20 lead at halftime.
Jacksonville opened the second half with five quick points from Nolan to cut the lead to 26-25, but a 17-4 run that was replaced by five points from Campbell High School’s former standout Terrell Burden and a 3-pointer from Chris Youngblood was highlighted, it allowed the Owls to rebuild it to 14.
“If we know how we can expand this leadership, we will take off,” said Abdur-Rahim.
Jacksonville returned with a 57% shot in the second half, leaving Kennesaw State 21-9.
“A lot (the Jacksonville players) played basketball a lot,” said Abdur-Rahim. “The guys who had to play for them made them.”
Spencer Rodgers led Kennesaw State with 13 points, Brandon Stroud had 11 with seven rebounds, Burden had 10 and Youngblood finished with nine.
The owls won’t have much time to take care of this game as the new ASUN planning format will compete again on Saturday afternoon due to the pandemic.
Abdur-Rahim said his players are ready for the quick turnaround.
“At the AAU Ball, these guys played several games in one day,” he said. “This is a basketball player’s dream – two games in two days.”