North Florida lost the ASUN Championship to FGCU, 77-61. UNF had hot shooting during the first half, but fizzled out during the second.
With a guaranteed slot in the 2017 NCAA Tournament on the line, this was surely a battle of the birds.
The game went back and forth early on. UNF jumped out to a 6-2 lead, only to let FGCU pass them. The Ospreys answered back with a 6-0 run to tie it all up at 12.
Senior Aaron Bodager made the first Osprey three ball, which allowed North Florida to regain the lead 15-12.
North Florida continued to extend their lead as Dallas Moore slammed a huge dunk after stealing the ball, giving them a 18-12 advantage.
Bodager smacked the ball out of an Eagle’s hand while they were trying to inbound the ball. This act of emotion would give the senior a technical foul. FGCU made both technical free throws, giving the team two extra points.
With defensive pressure put on Moore, Bodager the “Three Point Speciality” was left wide open. The fifth-year senior downed a huge three ball, as the Ospreys continued extending the lead, 21-16.
FGCU answered back with a 5-0 scoring spurt of their own. Freshman Garrett Sams would end that run after making a big three, 26-22 in the Ospreys advantage.
Late in the first half Wajid Aminu came down awkwardly and looked like he hyperextended his knee. Aminu was helped off the court and was in obvious pain.
FGCU, wanting a slot in the tournament, continued to fight tying the score once again at 26.
Osborn Blount knocked down a long three-pointer that was closer to the half court, and another step-back three-pointer, giving the Ospreys a little more separation from the Eagles 32-28.
Aminu came back into the game after limping off the court, and if the freshman of the year was in any pain, you could not tell. At the shot clock buzzer Aminu downed an off-balance jumper as the Ospreys continued to pile on the points.
Moore downed a floater as the seconds in the first half ticked away, giving UNF a 39-33 lead going into halftime.
Out of the break FGCU was on fire. The Eagles jumped out to a 10-3 run. The lead shifted back and forth until FGCU’s star guard Brandon Goodwin gave the Eagles a 45-44 lead.
Bodager hit a huge trey and the crowd of Eagles went silent. But FGCU — not be be outdone on their homecourt — answered back with their own three, causing the crowd to go crazy.
North Florida missed many easy shots around the basket that could help them maintain the lead. UNF went over six minutes without a point until Aminu’s tip-in, and North Florida trailed 56-49.
FGCU continued their second half surge, going up 71-59 and causing the Ospreys to take a timeout. North Florida went on another scoring drought, with almost four minutes without scoring.
Moore shot seven three-pointers and missed them all. The Birds of Trey only shot 23 percent from three and 35 percent from the field goal line.
The Eagles could not miss during the second half. UNF accepted defeat and took all five players out at 49.2 seconds left and replaced them with five reserves.
Emotions were obviously high: Sams and Bodager could be seen weeping on the bench, as others held their head down low.
UNF lost in the ASUN Championship 77-61. FGCU is now the back to back ASUN champs. The Eagle student body stormed to court as the team celebrated.
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