Lace up the dancing shoes; Ospreys move on to the final test of character

Joslyn Simmons

The No. 1 seed University of North Florida Ospreys rolled behind Dallas Moore’s explosive 36-point night to overtake the No. 5 seed Lipscomb Bisons 71-57 in the A-Sun Conference Championship Semifinals.

In front of another packed in home-crowd the Ospreys (22-11) would not disappoint coming out the gate with an early lead. The Ospreys and Bisons (14-17) went bucket for bucket in the fast paced first five minutes of the game. After back to back three-pointers, the Bisons were down two in the middle of the first half. UNF’s Chris Davenport, sophomore forward, made a pair of free throws to help the Ospreys expand their lead over the Bisons. Seconds before halftime UNF’s Trent Mackey, junior guard, hit a huge shot from behind the arc to put the Ospreys up by 13.

Beau Beech (2) pushes around the defense. Photo by Camille Shaw
Beau Beech (2) pushes around the defense.
Photo by Camille Shaw

The Bisons came out of the locker room with intensity, immediately chipping away at the Ospreys’ lead. Lipscomb’s Josh Williams, sophomore, chipped away the Ospreys’ lead to just four with a pair of free throws. J.C. Hampton, Bison sophomore, led the comeback charge with 16 points in the loss.

“I am obviously proud of our team. It was difficult from start to finish,” Bisons’ Head Coach Casey Alexander said. “[We] never led; it was a pretty serious grind to just stay in there.”

On the defensive front for the Ospreys, Davenport grabbed nine boards off the glass with a total of 15 points for the night. Jalen Nesbitt, UNF’s senior starting guard, grabbed eight boards off the glass. The UNF Arena was rocking after Nesbitt’s dunk off a fast break in the final minutes of the second half. UNF’s Demarcus Daniels, junior, would foul out with just over a minute left to play in second half. Daniels contributed four points and five rebounds on the night.

“I really thought we set the tempo early,” UNF Head Coach Matthew Driscoll said. “[We] really tried to push it early and get them going.”

UNF’s Beau Beech, starting forward, joined the 1,000-point club after early free throws in the first half. Usual long-range shooters Mackey and Beech combined for just 2-17 from beyond the arc.

The Ospreys continue on their hunt for the ticket to the Big Dance this Sunday, March 8 against the No. 3 seed USC Upstate Spartans in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Final. Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. in the UNF Arena.

The Ospreys, despite being on their longest winning streak of the season at seven games, suffered both of their regular season losses to the Spartans. This championship final will be a true test of greatness for North Florida, as they strive to do something that has never been done.

Gallery photos by Camille Shaw

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