Ospreys beat Savannah State in a nailbiter

Jalen Nesbitt’s two free throws with 2 seconds left sealed victory for UNF. Photo credit: John Shippee

Christian Ayers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UNF men’s basketball ended a 2-game skid after a tight 66-63 win against Savannah State Nov. 18. The victory pushed UNF to a 8-0 all time record against the Tigers  at UNF Arena.

Demarcus Daniels hit two free throws with 32 seconds left to put UNF up 63-61. UNF wouldn’t trail after that.

Following a paltry 57.1 percent free throw outing against Southern, much to head coach Matthew Driscoll’s chagrin, the Ospreys (2-3) went 32-39 (82.1 percent) from the stripe on 27 Tiger fouls. Twelve of Beech’s 19 points came from the free throw line. The sophomore drained each of his 6 foul shots in the second half while Savannah State (2-3) made 12 free throws as a team for the game.

The game was tied 9 times, and the lead changed 9 times as well, with neither team leading by more than 6 points.

Guard Beau Beech scored a career high 19 points while Travis Wallace added 12 more. The pair were the only Osprey scorers in double figures.

“That was the first time I’ve got to the line that much,” Beech said. “Today at shootaround we took a lot of free throws as a team and it paid off today.”

Savannah State scored 12 second chance points on 11 offensive rebounds, including 7 in the first half. The Tigers couldn’t take full advantage of their extra chances despite outscoring the Ospreys in the paint by 8 points.

“We’ve outrebounded every opponent except for Southern the other night so give these guys credit for doing that,” Driscoll said. “But (Savannah State) did have some stick-backs, especially in the first half, that kind of kept them in the game. We just have to look at the film and figure out how we can rebound better.”

Guard Deven Williams scored 16 points to lead the Tigers while forward Jyles Smith added 14 and game highs in rebounds with 9 (4 offensive) and 4 blocks. Smith fouled out with 3:44 left in the game Savannah State’s leading scorer Joshua Montgomery (11.0 ppg) went 1-6 for the game and scored just 3 points.

The Osprey bench was outscored by 31 against Southern but limited Savannah State to 18 bench points. Yet, Driscoll was still not satisfied with his team’s effort against the Tiger bench.

“I really thought in the first half (our bench) did a good job,” Driscoll said. “In the second half it’s a little bit harder to help guys because we’re on the other end of the floor, so we struggle sometimes as a coach. I thought (the Tigers) got the ball interiorly too easily.”

This is the first game of a home-and-home for the Ospreys against Savannah State. They’ll travel to Savannah next week where the Ospreys are 0-7.

The Ospreys will first face Webber (1-4) Thursday at 7 p.m in what will be the final game of UNF’s three-game home stand.