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Men’s basketball defeats Stetson on Senior Night

The University of North Florida men’s basketball team defeated the Stetson Hatters on Friday, 78-59, on Senior Night at UNF Arena. 

On a night when the Ospreys were honoring seniors Dorian James and Jake van der Heijden, UNF methodically pulled away from number two-ranked Stetson in the second half. This was courtesy of 15 completed three-pointers and 46 combined points from James and Chaz Lanier.

Stetson opened up the game on a 6-2 run after the Ospreys missed their first trio of three-point attempts. North Florida trailed 6-5 at the first media timeout. Lanier and Jaylen Smith hit a pair of threes, fueling an 8-0 UNF run in two minutes, ultimately leading to a 13-7 Osprey advantage. 

North Florida followed by balancing their offensive approach. A pair of layups by James and Lanier and a couple of three-pointers by Nate Lliteras and Smith gave the Ospreys a 23-15 lead with eight minutes left in the half. 

Lanier’s back-to-back three-pointers gave UNF their largest lead of the game at 32-21 with four minutes left in the first frame. Stetson answered by cutting the Osprey lead to 37-29, courtesy of four straight free throws from guards Stephan Swenson and Jalen Blackmon. 

North Florida ended the first half on a 5-0 run after freshman guard Jaylen Smith knocked down a half-court buzzer-beater three-pointer, culminating in a 42-29 UNF halftime lead. 

The Ospreys started off the second half on an 8-0 run after freshman guard Jasai Miles scored the first five points. This gave UNF the 50-29 lead, forcing a Stetson timeout in less than three minutes. 

North Florida’s following five scores were all three-pointers, each from a different player, leading to a 59-34 lead, the Ospreys’ largest lead of the game with 14 minutes remaining. Trailing 67-45, Stetson answered by going on a 12-2 run after eight consecutive free throws and two layups, cutting the Osprey lead to just 12 with under five minutes to play. 

Oscar Berry scored the following five points on two layups and a free throw to give North Florida the 74-57 lead. The Ospreys held Stetson without a field goal for the game’s final four minutes, which led to the 78-59 UNF victory. 

North Florida is now 6-0 on the season when allowing under 60 points. Following the game, head coach Matthew Driscoll shared his thoughts on how they could hold Stetson to 1-9 from three-point range. 

“I thought we really guarded the ball well,” Driscoll said. “I thought we were able to switch out well.” 

Dorian James notched his second 20+ point game of the season during his final game at UNF Arena.

Sixth-year veteran Dorian James was one of the seniors honored in this game, where he put up 20 points. (Rachel Bacchus)

“It’s really cool to [score 20 points] on this night,” James said. “But all that really mattered tonight was that we got that win and got some momentum going into the tournament.”

This win gave the Ospreys a 16-15 regular season record, while Stetson dropped to 19-12. UNF secured a fifth seed in the ASUN Tournament, while Stetson will be a two-seed. 

North Florida will now travel to Clarksville, Tennessee, to face Austin Peay University in the Quarterfinals of the ASUN tournament on March 5 at 8 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, 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, 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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