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Strong second half leads Ospreys to season-opening win over Coastal Georgia

The University of North Florida Men’s basketball team opened the 2023-2024 season at home for the first time in over a decade, pulling away with a comfortable 92-55 win over the lower-division Coastal Georgia Mariners. 

The first half wasn’t exactly a struggle as UNF never surrendered the lead or let Coastal Georgia get too close. Despite this, the Ospreys didn’t go on a long scoring run until the second half. 

After the 38-24 halftime lead, the Ospreys shot only 40% from the field and 29% from three. The second half was a whole different story. 

The offensive onslaught was led by six Ospreys notching double figures, including Bucknell transfer Jake van der Heijden posting an impressive 18 points in 12 minutes of action. 

“I feel like we got guys who can score up and down the roster,” the Raleigh native said. “Everytime we go in, we’re all looking to shoot.”

Heijden shot at an efficient 7-8 from the field and 4-5 from three-point range. This contributed greatly to the Ospreys overall 13-37 mark from beyond the arc. 

“They realized {Heijden} was feeling it a little bit and obviously we shared it, 11 assists on 18 baskets in the second half,” head coach Matthew Driscoll said. 

The Ospreys also passed the ball well and found open players quickly, with 17 total assists on the night. UNF also had 46 bench points, which Heijden and Discroll both credit to the system they play. 

“The ball’s always going to find you in our system. The key is you’ve got to be ready to do what you have to do.”

Certainly many players did their job. The Ospreys did just enough in half one to hold a solid 14 point lead at the intermission. Even so, North Florida mainly pulled away from Coastal Georgia in the second half.

The Ospreys found more open players, nearly doubling their assist total from the first half. This led to a 21-0 run going into the final media timeout. This all accumulated to 54 Osprey points in the final frame leading to their most points scored in a season opener since 2015.

Excellent ball movement allowed the Ospreys to go on a 21-0 run in the second half. (Rachel Bacchus)

UNF had five new players make their debuts on the team, with three of them scoring in double-digits. The Ospreys continue their non-conference schedule as they travel to Charleston Southern University to face the Buccaneers. Tip off is on Nov. 9 at 7 p.m.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Ethan Howick
Ethan Howick, Sports Reporter
Ethan Howick is a first-year communications major at the University of North Florida. Ethan has a passion for sports journalism with hopes of becoming a journalist and/or broadcaster for a sports media company someday. During his free time, Ethan enjoys spending time with his family and attending many sporting events with friends.
Rachel Bacchus
Rachel Bacchus, General Assignment Reporter
Rachel Bacchus is the current General Assignment Reporter at Spinnaker but also volunteers as a photographer. Rachel is a young photographer and writer working towards her Degree in Multimedia Journalism. She is primarily interested in sports photography and political journalism.

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