In a do or die situation, North Florida did what they had to do to beat Jacksonville University. Dallas Moore lead his team to a 77-74 victory over the Dolphins on Monday night in the ASUN quarterfinals.
With nearly 3,000 fans packed in the UNF Arena, the teams were ready to rumble. UNF jumped out to an early 5-0 lead, but JU would answer back with five of their own, tying the game up. From then on the game was back and forth.
During the first half, Moore would score 12 of UNF’s 13 points early on. He would end the game with 37 points — the most points he’s ever scored in the UNF Arena. Moore also tied for a game-high seven rebounds and had three assist. No other Osprey would reach double digits in scoring.
Moore knew coming in that this would be a fight to the end.
“It’s always a battle when we play them,” said Moore.
There were two separate scuffles on the court where players had heated exchanges — one scuffle even knocked a referee off his feet. UNF’s Osborn Blount was given the only technical foul of the night for his part in the exchange.
“Anything like that is very selfish,” said Head Coach Matthew Driscoll. “There is no room for that anytime.”
Tempers flared off the court too, as students from both schools were rowdy, and multiple fans were kicked out due to their behavior. Many JU fans traveled across to the river to cheer their squad on. At some times it sounded like the Dolphins were at home, but the Ospreys — who were not to be outdone on their home court — came back louder and prouder.
Driscoll acknowledged that his team did not do their best during some parts of the game, but they were still able to pull out the win.
“We withstood some bad decisions on our part,” said Driscoll.
The Dolphins hit a three ball late in the first half to cut UNF’s lead down to one. The Ospreys would go into halftime up 32-31.
Out of the halftime break, Aaron Bodager and Moore both hit two treys of their own, extending UNF’s lead to 44-35. After these shots the arena was rocking and filled with cheers and a couple boos.
But every time UNF managed to get a sizeable lead, JU would come right back and make it a tight contest. After an Osprey turnover, the Dolphins were able to capitalize in the transition and cut the game to one point once again, 66-65 in the Ospreys advantage.
Missed free throws hurt the Ospreys. Down the stretch, Chris Davenport and Wajid Aminu both missed a pair of free throws each. Aminu ended the game with nine points and tied for a game-high seven rebounds. Davenport had five points and tied for a game-high seven rebounds by the end of regulation.
Garrett Sams came in clutch late in the game. Sams made a wide open three as the Dolphins decided to put more defensive energy into guarding Moore and Davenport. Instead of going for the two points in the paint, Davenport dished it to Sams on the wing, and the freshman netted a three ball bringing the score to 75-71. Davenport credited this play to “reading the help” and know what shots his teammates can make and trusting them.
“[With Garrett] that open he has to take that three.” said Moore, and that shot is sure to be one Sams remembers.
Jacksonville answered back with their own three cutting the lead once again to 75-74 in the Ospreys advantage.
With just seconds left on the clock, Sams was fouled and made two free throws making it a three point game. JU was unable to make a last effort shot. The arena was so loud that Moore said that he did not realize that the game was over or that the buzzer had sounded.
Next UNF will play at Lipscomb on March 2 in the ASUN tournament semifinals. North Florida won two match-ups with the Bisons this year.
For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.