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Missed free throws lead to overtime loss

The UNF men’s basketball team lost 69-65 in overtime to Atlantic Sun Conference rival Kennesaw State University Feb. 7 because of multiple missed free throws.

UNF was 8-of-19 from the free-throw line and missed two critical free throws in the final minute of play. This allowed Kennesaw State’s Kelvin McConnel to hit a 3-pointer with one second to go to force overtime, where the Owls outscored the Ospreys 9-5.

“We put ourselves in a position to win the game, but you have to put a team away at the free throw line,” UNF head coach Matt Kilcullen said in a press release. “We had a prevent defense on at the end of the game with a 3-point lead, and we were supposed to foul but we allowed them to hit a 3-pointer to force overtime.”

The Ospreys (5-18, 3-10 A-Sun) are now winless in their last eight overtime games. The Owls (7-15, 3-10 A-Sun) snapped a five-game losing streak and earned a season split with UNF.

Senior guard Cortez Riley had a historical night by earning his first career double-double, compiling 13 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Junior guard Eni Cuka led the Ospreys in scoring with 20 points and knocked down four shots beyond the 3-point arc. The Owls were led in scoring by Jon-Michael Nickerson’s 20 points and McConnel’s 18.

Kennesaw State started off with an 8-0 run before UNF got on the board with a 3-pointer from junior guard Stan Januska. Januska hit another 3-pointer to bring the score to 10-8, and then the Owls committed three turnovers in four possessions and gave UNF an 18-16 lead with seven minutes to play in the half.

During that time, Cuka hit his third 3-pointer of the game to give the Ospreys a 21-16 lead. The Owls drilled a 3-pointer to narrow the Ospreys lead to 32-27, which ended the first half. UNF led by as many as eight points in the first half.

The Ospreys controlled the boards in the first half by outrebounding the Owls 17-10. In the second half, the Owls were able to catch up during the first eight minutes, which resulted in a 45-43 Kennesaw State lead.

Though the game continued back and forth, Cuka answered at the end of the second half with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to give the Ospreys the lead, 57-55.

Riley and freshman forward Zach Riggins each hit 1-of-2 free throws in the final minute of play to keep UNF’s advantage at three points. But McConnel’s 3-pointer from the right wing forced overtime.

UNF returns to the court at 7:15 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Veterans Memorial Arena for this season’s second installment of the River City Rumble. At the Dolphin Fry on the Green, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday, UNF Athletics will be giving away 400 free tickets to the game.

E-mail Matthew Hersch at [email protected].

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