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Strong second half leads Ospreys to ‘River City Rumble’ win over JU

The “River City Rumble” has been one of Jacksonville’s biggest basketball rivalries since 2004, where the North Florida Ospreys and Jacksonville Dolphins meet biannually to compete for the Old Wooden Barrel trophy. 

The mere 10 miles between these schools only adds to the fuel between these two bitter rivals, with families and offices divided on who gets bragging rights for the year. Even Jaguars players like Pro Bowler Josh Allen made an appearance Friday. 

This year was no different, as the Ospreys took the opening 2024 game of this inner-city rivalry, topping Jacksonville 82-74 in front of a raucous crowd of 4,559 fans, the largest attendance for a match at UNF Arena in eight years and the sixth-largest attendance in UNF Arena history.  

The first half was a back-and-forth affair that saw both teams trade buckets near the rim. However, some Jacksonville jumpers helped increase the Dolphins’ lead to 28-20. North Florida missed quite a few shots in the first half, including only 2-11 shots made from three. 

But the Ospreys weren’t going away quietly. UNF went from shooting a frustrating 2-11 from three in the first half to a more efficient 5-7 during the final half. Even so, North Florida relied heavily on scoring near the basket for most of the game. The Ospreys notched 42 points inside the paint, their most this season against a Division I team.  

Having been susceptible to runs this season, Jacksonville gave up 9-0 and 12-3 scoring spurts, meaning they gave up points quickly, allowing North Florida to grow a double-digit lead. Though the Ospreys were out-rebounded by 19, they took advantage of the Dolphins’ 12 turnovers and scored 17 points off them. 

After facing a 36-33 halftime deficit, the Ospreys’ scoring efficiency propelled them to a comeback win, shooting 84.21% from the court in the second half. The Ospreys shooting percentage increased by nearly 40% in the second half, which had to be because of second-half adjustments, right?

“There were no adjustments,” said head coach Matthew Driscoll. “I think it’s a greater testament to the guys’ understanding about how we play as opposed to adjustments.”

North Florida saw a mix of veterans and freshmen contribute to the win. Chaz Lanier continued his scoring barrage this season by putting up 21 points. Dorian James, who just played in his final home game of this rivalry, notched a career-high 25 points and shot an astonishing 11-13 from the field. 

Dorian James had a historic night against JU, putting up a career-high 25 points in the Ospreys first River City Rumble win of the season. (Rachel Bacchus)

“Six assists and no turnovers for a freshman. There’s something to be said for that,” Driscoll said about freshman Jaylen Smith, who stepped up as the starting point guard following the injury of Ametri Moss.

This game marks the Ospreys’ third straight victory in the series, extending their all-time lead to 22-20 and giving them their second ASUN victory of the year.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins are still looking for their first conference win, falling to 0-3 in ASUN play. 

Friday’s game is one of two times North Florida will play their crosstown rival this season. The Ospreys will play Jacksonville again on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in Swisher Gymnasium.


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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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