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Homecoming firestorm: career night for Banks as Ospreys oust Tigers 97-65

The University of North Florida men’s basketball team came out of the locker rooms on fire Monday night and proceeded to put on a blistering, home court performance that resulted in a 97-65 victory over crosstown rivals, Edward Waters College.

After returning home from a successful showing at the Cancun Challenge, which landed them their second tournament title, the Ospreys improved to 4-3 for the season after this big win.

“I thought we did a good job of moving the ball around on offense and then also defending the ball,” UNF Head Coach Matthew Driscoll said. “Overall, I was excited about how the team as a whole played.”

Chris Davenport (35)Photo by Camille Shaw
Chris Davenport (35)
Photo by Camille Shaw

The only point advantage for Edward Waters came early in the first half when the Tigers would go on a six-point run to take the lead by one. After a timeout and a foul by EWC’s Robert Ellis, UNF sophomore Chris Davenport would tie the game up at 6-6 with a free throw at the line. A minute later, the Ospreys would reclaim the lead after UNF junior Demarcus Daniels dunked the ball.

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The largest lead of the night for the Ospreys came during the second half after sophomore center Romelo Banks made a defensive rebound off of a missed jumper by EWC’s Nathaniel Hill. On the opposite end of the court Banks received a well-timed assist from fellow teammate Aaron Bodager and was fouled as his layup rolled into the cylinder. Banks would go on to miss the free throw, but his efforts in the paint would give the Ospreys a 34-point lead with one minute fifteen seconds left on the clock.

UNF’s junior small forward Beau Beech shot 70 percent from both the field goal and three-point range, tallying a total of 25 points for the night. Banks went 9-for-11 from the field goal range, racking up 20 points and eight rebounds, which were single-game bests for the young center.

“It was nice to see Beau and Romelo be able to get things rolling offensively because we need that from both of them as we move forward,” Driscoll said. “We still have to get back to work and continue finding ways to improve on both ends of the floor.”

EWC senior forward Nathaniel Hill led both teams in scoring, stowing away a total of 29 points for the game. He went 7-for-8 from the free throw line and recorded a double-double for his work under the boards, gathering a total of 13 rebounds on the night.

The Ospreys outshot the Tigers from every position on the court except for the free throw line. UNF went 12-29 from beyond the arc and shot 57 percent from the floor. The Ospreys also dominated their opponent’s key for the night with 46 of the 97 points they recorded coming from inside the paint.

The Ospreys will go back to work on Wednesday, Dec. 3 when they will face off against the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats (2-5) at 8 p.m. in Daytona Beach, Fla. at the Moore Gymnasium. This will be the fourth meeting between UNF and BCU. The Ospreys won their previous matchup with the Wildcats back in 2012, 71-65. In this upcoming game, the team will be in the hunt for their 250th win in the program’s 23-year history.

Gallery photos by Camille Shaw

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