JACKSONVILLE, Fla -- It was 40 years ago when the Jacksonville University Dolphins basketball team had this city rocking as it made it to the Final Four. Some of that excitement is back with a huge upset Wednesday morning in the NIT Tournament.
JU senior guard Ben Smith hit a three-point shot with about two seconds to go Tuesday night to give the eighth-seeded Dolphins a 67-66 upset over top-seeded Arizona State University on the road.
The winning shot made the top 10 plays on ESPN. It is national exposure that money can't buy, said JU President Kerry Romesburg.
"The entire West Coast was watching and that is exposure in a new market for us. It will help recruiting and all kinds of things. I have also received e-mails from alumni all over the country saying they saw the game or highlights on ESPN. They are talking about the resurgence of JU basketball," said Romesburg.
Romesburg has three degrees from Arizona State, but was ecstatic to see JU beat his alma mater. "It made our year."
JU Student Life staffer Devon Scheible said he was watching it on television at 2 a.m. in the morning and when Smith hit the shot, he was jumping up and down in his apartment. "It was outstanding," said Scheible.
Former JU great Rex Morgan, now the basketball coach at Arlington Country Day School, said he is proud JU is still playing in March.
"It's wonderful. It was a great win for Coach Cliff Warren and the guys. Texas Tech is next and we can beat them also."
JU will now go on the road to play Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas on Monday night, a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN.
The win means extra work for Jacksonville University. More than 30 staffers are working hard hosting the NCAA Regional tournament this weekend at the Jacksonville Arena.
Now JU is hosting the tournament, while making plans to play in Texas on Monday.
"You love to be in this position," said JU trainer Bo McDougal. "If we could be in this position all the time we would love it."
First Coast News