Men’s basketball comes back over the Spartans

Joslyn Simmons

Video by Will Weber

Men’s basketball (20-10 overall, 9-4 A-Sun) sealed an 81-78 comeback victory over the USC Upstate Spartans (9-21 overall, 3-10 A-Sun) with a three-pointer from UNF guard Dallas Moore for the edge on Feb. 20 at the UNF Arena. The Ospreys clinched a share of the A-Sun regular season title and secured a home game during the A-Sun tournament.

During the first half the two teams battled back and forth, and there were seven lead changes. Upstate claimed the first points of the night behind a three-pointer by Mike Cunningham. The Ospreys did not trail for long. After a basket by UNF guard/forward Beau Beech and a three-pointer from the hands of UNF guard Trent Mackey, the Ospreys took a 5-3 lead.

Later in the first half, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run after back to back turnovers by UNF. Led by forward Demarcus Daniels, the Ospreys responded with a run of their own to take a 41-40 lead into the break.

Nick Malonga attempts a free throw.  Photo by Will Weber
Nick Malonga attempts a free throw. Photo by Will Weber

In the second half,  Beech pushed the lead to 43-40 before the Spartans stormed ahead. Down the stretch, the Ospreys struck back to begin their last push over the Spartans.

“In the last seven minutes, we held them to seven points and outscored them 17-7 in order to win the game,” Coach Matthew Driscoll said.

Down the stretch, momentum began to shift in UNF’s favor as the crowd erupted louder with each made basket and defensive stand. With just over five minutes left, a block by Demarcus Daniels disrupted Upstate’s offensive rhythm and led to a shot clock violation.

Daniels said the game came down to making plays.

“It was a hard fought game, and give credit to our whole entire team who came through [down] the stretch and made a play we had to make the last four minutes of the game,” Daniels said. “I mean Beau [Beech] made a huge rebound, that we didn’t get one game earlier in conference play.”

With 30.1 seconds left on the clock, UNF guard Dallas Moore nailed a three-pointer to take an 80-78 lead.

Moore described how the same shot was in his hand during his freshman year against Lipscomb, but he did not take it. After talking to Coach Driscoll about how Upstate was defending him he decided to change his approach.

“My teammates trusted me and they were telling me to take it. And then I thought about the Lipscomb thing as well which is experience, and I just had to knock it down,” Moore said.

The Ospreys completed only 25.8 percent from behind the arc, compared to the Spartans’ 38.5 percent. From the field, UNF made 44.6 percent of their baskets while Upstate made 51.5 percent. The two teams were evenly matched in points in the paint with 40 for the Spartans and 36 for the Ospreys.

Spartans’ center Michael Buchanan missed both of his free throws with 12.2 seconds to go in the game. Beech connected on his pair of free throws with 9.8 seconds to seal the victory.

Buchanan finished the night with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks.

On the offensive front for the Ospreys, four players finished in double figures.

Daniels racked up 23 points, eight rebounds and two blocks. Beech finished the night with 18 points and five rebounds. Moore tallied up 14 points, three rebounds and nine assists, and UNF forward Chris Davenport contributed 13 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

The Jacksonville University Dolphins fell to the NJIT Highlanders 73-58, clinching a home game for the Ospreys in the A-Sun tournament.

For the regular season finale, the Ospreys will face off against the Dolphins at Swisher Gym on Feb. 25.

 

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