FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It may not be the biggest win in Tom Klusman's 40 years as Rollins head coach, but it surely ranks near the top as the Tars went on the road and stunned No. 1 Nova Southeastern 86-85 on Saturday.
Senior Jakobi Bonner drained a step-back jumper with three seconds left to break an 82-82 tie in what was the eventual game winner. The Winter Springs native led the way with 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Dayton Gumm added 14 points and five rebounds while Connor Mckim added 11. His two free throws with a second to play iced the game, as a desperation heave from NSU went in to make it a one-point final.
Rollins improves to 6-3 overall and 2-1 in Sunshine State Conference play and knocks NSU from the ranks of the unbeaten, as the Sharks fall to 6-1, 2-1 SSC.
In the NCAA Division II poll era (1960), Rollins has two other wins over the nation's top-ranked team: Florida Southern on Jan. 28, 1976 (82-68) and Tampa on Jan. 16, 1988 (77-75 OT).
NSU was led by Mikkel Kolstad's 28 points while Mark Matthews added 27.
The Sharks came into the game leading the nation in points per game (119.0), field goal percentage (61 percent) and rebounding margin (+15.7). Rollins beat NSU in every category Saturday. The Tars shot a season-best 61 percent from the field to the Sharks 45 percent while outrebounding their hosts, 34-25.
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It was Rollins who set the tone early, jumping out to a 5-0 lead after a Gumm dunk. NSU came back to tie the score, but the Tars kept their foot on the gas and went up 11-5 after the first five minutes. The Sharks swung things back in their favor and grabbed a 26-21 lead by the midway point of the first.
Led by its staunch defense and methodical offense, Rollins outscored NSU 17-4 over the next seven minutes and snagged a 38-30 lead with four minutes left in the first. The Tars led by as many as 10 twice late in the frame before taking a 44-35 lead into the break — the Sharks' largest halftime deficit of the season.
Up 11 early in the second, the Tars saw NSU roll off a quick 8-0 run and slice into the Rollins advantage. After a timeout, Bonner got a tough bucket in the paint and Rollins maintained its lead.
Rollins led by seven with 12:24 to play but could not pull away, as the Sharks drew even 74-74 with four minutes left.
The Sharks took a 79-78 lead on a Smith free throw with 1:26 left, but Bonner answered with a jumper and Hutton Yenor made good on a pair of free throws to put the Tars back on top by three with 42 seconds to play. Kolstad then hit a deep three to tie the score and Rollins held for the last possession. Yenor handed off to Bonner, who juked on the right elbow and calmly sank the 15-footer for a two-point Tars lead. NSU fumbled the inbound and turned it right back over to the Tars. After a quick foul, Mckim hit both at the line to ice the game.
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Rollins next heads to Las Vegas for the 2019 South Points Holiday Hoops on December 21-22. The Tars meet Drury in the first round at noon on the 21st and will face either Pittsburg State or Montana State-Billings at noon on the 22nd. Fans can follow the action live on the Tars Sports Network at RollinsSports.com and locally on 91.5 FM WPRK.