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UNF Spinnaker

Ospreys shoot past Tigers

On the coldest night of the fall so far, the University of North Florida men’s basketball team was heating things up inside the UNF Arena. The Ospreys used a 65 point second half to shoot its way to 98-54 win over Edward Waters, Thursday, in UNF’s first game on the 2010-11 season.

The game was just an exhibition, but the Ospreys were happy to compete against someone not wearing blue and white after a long offseason of just practicing against each other.

“I was just really happy to get out on the court,” said senior guard Brad Haugabrook who scored 10 points while dishing out six assists and grabbing three rebounds. “We’ve been practicing a lot against each other but it’s always good to play someone new. We just tried to give out best effort today. I think we overall did a pretty good job.”

There was a lot to cheer about for Ospreys fans. It was clear from the tipoff what UNF wanted to do against Edward Waters. They wanted to push the ball to get open shots and play tough defense. They did both very well.

The Ospreys were led by sharp shooter, sophomore guard, Parker Smith who was deadly behind the three point line on his way to a game high 23 points. Smith started off slow, missing all three of his first half shots, before finding his shot in the second half.

Smith helped the Ospreys, who led by 13 at halftime, pull away from the Tigers by scoring 11 points in the first four minutes of the second half. All of Smith 23 points came in the second half in which he shot eight for eight, seven of which were from behind the arch.

“In the second half I just felt a lot more comfortable,” Smith said. “I felt more prepared because I’ve been practicing for a year and a half now just like repetition and the motion and routine of how I get my shots in our offense. I was just more calm instead of so hyped for playing in my first game back.”

Junior forward Matt Sauey also had a big game, scoring 19 points on nine of 10 shooting. Sauey also grabbed eight rebounds and had one block.

While Smith and Sauey led the way, it was a total team effort from the Ospreys offensively. All 11 players on the active roster played and scored. They had four players score in double figures and had 22 assists on 36 made field goals.

“All we want to do is serve,” said head coach Matt Driscoll. “If you serve your teammates we’re going to be really good. When you got guys that can score. We got guys that can get 20 every night. It just depends on who’s hitting or who’s open. So we’re blessed in that way that we have players.”

Defensively UNF was dominant. They played a very aggressive and active defense that gave Edward Waters a lot of trouble throughout the night. They forced the Tigers to turn the ball over 20 times. The Ospreys also had nine steals and three blocked shots.

The Ospreys held Edward Waters to 54 points on just 36.2 percent shooting. Defense was something that Driscoll had stressed in the offseason, pointing out that most of the top teams in the nation are at the top of their conferences in defensive statistics, especially in defensive field goal percentage.

“In order to win championships you’ve got to be the best defensive team in the league,” Driscoll said. “I was really happy with out rotations. We had some mistakes but it will happen. It was early in the year.”

The fans came out to support their Ospreys in the first game of the season. The final attendance was 1589, which did not go unnoticed by Driscoll, who addressed the crowd after the game and thanked them for coming out to the Arena.

“I thought the biggest, loudest, message sent tonight was the fact that we had over 1500 in the stands,” Driscoll said. “Our student body section was unbelievable. I’m really proud of our university as far coming out and supporting these guys.”

Smith pointed out that the crowd helped to give them momentum and said that they really fed off the crowd’s energy throughout the night.

“Every time you score or you make a defensive stop or somebody dunks and the crowd goes crazy that’s just adrenaline that pumps through you,” Smith said. “You just want to keep feeding the crowd.

The Ospreys have a week off before traveling to Tallahassee to start their 2010-11 regular season against Florida State. After Thursday’s performance, the Ospreys said they are confident and ready to start the season.

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