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UNF men’s basketball beats fifth-ranked Lipscomb 85-76 at the Nest

The University of North Florida men’s basketball team competed in an Atlantic Sun battle at home Wednesday evening, defeating the Lipscomb Bisons 85-76 in North Florida’s sixth conference win this season.

Despite North Florida and Lipscomb being the league’s third and fifth-ranked teams, the two programs desperately needed wins after both suffered losses this past Saturday.

Following a blowout loss to Stetson, the Bisons needed a win to keep a tied record with Central Arkansas and Kennesaw State. For the Ospreys, a brutal defeat to top-ranked Eastern Kentucky ended their five-game win streak, and they went into the game looking to re-establish themselves as top contenders.

As such, the opening half showcased an aggressive play style from both North Florida and Lipscomb. With the three-point shot being a strength of both teams (they are in the ASUN top three for accuracy on triples), the key to winning was to focus on the inside and get physical at the net, and North Florida did just that.

Although Lipscomb caused problems on the fast break, the Ospreys outrebounded them by three and had three fewer turnovers than they did. Though not an easy feat, North Florida took the first half by a sizable margin of 36-28.

Freshman Jaylen Smith at UNF vs. Lipscomb on Wednesday night. (Rachel Bacchus)

The Ospreys’ lead only got bigger from there. Early into the final period, North Florida went on an unanswered seven-point run. They also dominated the glass with two blocks and five rebounds, allowing the team to reach a 16-point lead with 13 minutes remaining.

But the Bisons weren’t going down easy; a trio of threes and a four-point run late in the game allowed Lipscomb to keep it within five points. However, Lipscomb heavily began fouling the Ospreys, running a full-court press defense. Several Osprey free throws let them hold on to their lead and win 85-76.

The key to this game was to focus on the inside, which showed in the paint. Thirty-eight of UNF’s 85 points came from the paint, while the team only sank eight three-pointers the entire game, which was quite unfamiliar to an Osprey team known for their success from range.

North Florida’s star guard Chaz Lanier had yet another great outing Wednesday night, leading the game in scoring with 23 points. But the true breakout of the evening belonged to Longwood University transfer Nate Lliteras.

Lliteras (#11) is a junior transfer from Longwood University. (Rachel Bacchus)

Lliteras put up 19 points and nine rebounds and shot at a highly accurate rate of 80% throughout. When asked about what led to his high output and accuracy while doing so, Lliteras said he believed the coach put him in the right place at the right time, and it was his responsibility to persevere.

When asked how the team adjusted their play style, North Florida head coach Matthew Driscoll credited his players for their adaptability, citing their core skill set as a solid foundation allowing them to operate outside their strengths.

“Every single night, every single team … they all try to do something different,” Driscoll said. “We’re the best three-point shooting team in America. What people are starting to realize, I think, is the fact that we’ve got really good dribble, pass and shoot guys everywhere … So if you’re going to make us do that, then we’re gonna take advantage of it.”

The Ospreys will head to Clarksville, Tennessee, for their next outing on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. against Austin Peay.

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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 Contributor
Jacob Justice, Sports Editor
Jacob Justice is a third-year multimedia journalism major at the University of North Florida. First joining as a sports reporter, Jacob is now Spinnaker's sports editor. Jacob has a passion for sportswriting and hopes to write as a journalist for a sports media company in the future. In his free time, he tends to enjoy playing guitar and bass as well as spending quality time with friends.

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