North Florida holds top spot in A-Sun

Joslyn Simmons

Men’s basketball ( 9-10 overall, 8-4 A-Sun) rolled over the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders (16-12 overall, 7-5 A-Sun) 107-71 at the UNF Arena on Feb. 18.

The Ospreys home win over the co-first place Highlanders is their first since their three-game road trip. Before the game, the Ospreys were in a three-way tie for first place with NJIT and JU.

UNF and NJIT exchanged buckets early in the first half. Free throws from UNF guard Beau Beech became the first points of the night. UNF forward Demarcus Daniels and UNF guard Aaron Bodager nailed three-pointers as the Ospreys mounted a run for a 12-5 lead.

beau picture
Guard Beau Beech and his fat head. Photo by Joslyn Simmon

After forcing a Highlander’s turnover and finishing with a fast-paced layup, UNF guard Dallas Moore earned his spot as the all-time leading scorer in UNF program history.

“It’s a great feeling, a great accomplishment,” Moore said after the game.

Daniels hammered a dunk with seconds left in the first before NJIT answered with the final made basket of the half.

At the break, the Ospreys held a 53-25 lead over the Highlanders.

UNF men’s basketball head coach Matthew Driscoll said the guys played with a different energy.

“I thought our guys played hungry tonight which gave them the edge,” said Driscoll.

In the second half, the Ospreys were hot from downtown. UNF forward Chris Davenport opened the half connecting from beyond the arc to extend the Ospreys’ 56-25 lead. The Ospreys cruised for the rest of the night, knocking down multiple three-pointers, jumpers and layups. The Highlanders did not have enough offensive power to close the growing lead of UNF.

UNF had 17 three-pointers compared to 10 from NJIT, and eight Ospreys connected at least once from behind the arc. The Highlanders struggled shooting, completing only 30.8 percent  from the field in the first and 47.4 percent in the second. For the Ospreys, their completion from the field was 70.4 percent in the first half, then slightly down in the second half with 66.7 percent.

Guard Aaron Bodager nailed three-pointers throughout the game. Photo by Michael Herrera
Guard Aaron Bodager nailed three-pointers throughout the game. Photo by Michael Herrera

UNF’s bench contributed 45 points compared to 25 from NJIT, and in the paint the Ospreys finished slightly ahead, 39 to 20.

Highlanders’ guard/forward Chris Jenkins finished with 16 points.   

Daniels led all-scorers with 25 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Moore tallied up 21 points, 11 assists and 2 rebounds.

Daniels said the team didn’t lose focus during the skid.

“No we never lost confidence, I mean we are an experienced bunch and we still have three games to play and that’s what we we’re focused on,” Daniels said. “You can’t focus on the past, we are just looking forward. You know we are going to come out and compete, which we did, and we got another game Saturday, another chance to do it.”

Now UNF shares the top spot with cross-town rival JU, who also has a 8-4 record in conference. The Dolphins defeated the USC Upstate Spartans 81-76  at JU on Feb. 18.

Next, the Ospreys will face the USC Upstate Spartans (9-20 overall, 3-9 A-Sun) at the UNF Arena on Feb. 20.

 

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