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UNF men’s basketball defeat Florida Gulf Coast 68-65 in overtime

The second time was the charm Feb. 13 for the giant poster cutout of UNF head men’s basketball coach Matthew Driscoll that paraded through the audience when the men’s basketball team defeated Florida Gulf Coast 68-65 in an intense overtime. This win brings the Ospreys to just one win away from clinching a spot in the tournament.

The 71-60 loss to Stetson University Feb. 11 put a short delay on UNF. “That night, we were disappointed, but the next day, we came to work and left it behind us,” said senior guard Eni Cuka. Because UNF lost to Stetson, the team does not yet qualify for the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament which will occur March 3 – March 6. The Ospreys’ record now stands at 12-14 for the season and 7-9 for A-Sun Conference Play. Even though UNF’s future in the A-Sun Tournament is unsure, Driscoll is still proud of how his team performed against FGCU.

“Our guys really did a great job of doing what they had to do,” he said. The team stayed on top of the 3-point shooters and freshman forward Andy Diaz shot a double-double.

In addition, Cuka and freshman guard Jerron Granberry both placed 13 points in the game. Sophomore forward Matt Sauey sat on the sidelines during Saturday’s game after spraining his right ankle in the final minutes of the game against Stetson. Sauey received treatment for his injury and is expected to play this week.

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“Our guys have really fought through a whole bunch of things, including injuries at this particular stage which is pretty common,” Driscoll said.

Florida Gulf Coast kept the lead for the majority of the first half, with a 36.8 shooting percentage, but the Ospreys stepped up during the last five minutes of the first half increasing the percentage rate to 57.9. UNF ended the first half with the lead at 30-27. UNF came out strong in the second half, but halfway through the second, Gulf Coast was able to regain the lead with a score of 44-43.

The Ospreys fought to regain the lead, but the second half ended with both teams tied at 55 points.

“Our league is just a brutal league. … Thirty-point wins would be kind of nice every once in a while,” Driscoll said about the close match against FGCU. “Florida Gulf Coast has always battled. They’ve battled everybody.”

The Ospreys struggled with rebounds in comparison to Florida Gulf Coast, making 13 offensive and 16 defensive rebounds. But even with FGCU’s high rebound stats, Cuka played well for the Ospreys during overtime, shooting seven points and catching an important offensive rebound when Granberry missed a free throw shot.

“You get those lucky bounces sometimes,” Cuka said. But Driscoll thought it was more than just luck. Cuka’s points helped seal the 68-65 win over FGCU. “I think people don’t think that [Cuka’s] fast enough or strong enough to get through, but he’s a lot stronger than you think,” Driscoll said.

The Ospreys travel to Georgia this week to play against Mercer Feb. 18 and Kennesaw State Feb. 20.

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