Men’s Basketball Overtakes Lipscomb

Joslyn Simmons



Video by DeAndre Pearson


The men’s basketball team (7-12 overall, 1-1 ASUN) bounced back and took out the Lipscomb Bisons (11-6 overall,1-1 ASUN) with a second half surge for a 102-96 victory at the UNF Arena on Jan. 11.


The Ospreys were once again stretched thin with experience as Wajid Aminu sat on the sideline with a boot for his ankle sprain. While Garrett Sams has made his return, the sophomore sharpshooter has been working to get back in the rhythm of the game while he continued to heal from his own ankle injury. Sams contributed 10 points on the game after being considered questionable hours before the game.

In a game of two halves, the Bisons came out in the opening minutes first and racked up a 13-2 lead early over the Ospreys. The Bisons’ leading scorer, Garrison Matthews, hit baskets against the Ospreys’ defense in the first half, and helped maintain the advantage over the home team.

Lipscomb dominated North Florida in the paint against the smaller Ospreys’ defense until the young team was challenged by the coaching staff to make a stand.

Head Coach Matthew Driscoll described how he talked to his guys throughout in the first half on the sideline and in the timeouts about changing the rhythm of the game out of Lipscomb’s favor.

“There’s an old sayings in athletics: ‘Punch someone in the mouth.’” Driscoll said, “They were definitely punching us in the mouth, and we weren’t responding.”

Midway through the first half, North Florida began to respond and started chipping away at the gap. With under a minute left in the opening half, Ivan Gandia-Rosa knocked down a three-pointer as the shot clock ticked down, and pulled the score within two points.

At the break, Lipscomb held a slim 48-46 lead over North Florida.

When the game resumed, the Bisons answered with a basket before the Ospreys created a run of their own. As the game progressed, UNF separated from Lipscomb with double digits deficits throughout the second half.

“We needed to step up,” Noah Horchler said. Photo by Joslyn Simmons

Noah Horchler swatted away four blocks while he racked up 16 points and 15 rebounds.

Horchler described himself and freshman teammates Trip Day and Emmanuel Lambright as the bigger guys on the squad, which helped him produce more on both ends of the floor as he picked up the weight of the missing Aminu.

“Like coach said, we just had to play bigger inside since Wajid was down,” Horchler said. ”Pretty much, he was just telling me we needed to step up.”

Lipscomb was held to primarily points from the free throws before three-pointers and drives to the paint began to fall in again late in the game.

Once again with just a minute left on the clock, there was a rally on the hardwood of the arena. Lipscomb brought the score within three points with a pair of three-pointers and a possession in the paint by guards Kenny Copper and Michael Buckland.

North Florida pushed the game out of reach with free throws just as their crosstown rival Jacksonville University did to them nights earlier.

UNF shot 47 percent from the field compared to Lipscomb’s 43 percent. The Birds of Trey knocked down 14 deep balls while the Bisons only connected eight. Though battling an illness that stopped him from practicing during the week, JT Escobar was hot from behind the arc for the Ospreys with five made as he ended his night with 18 points.

While the Ospreys turned the ball over more frequently in the first half, the squad finished the night with 14 turnovers. The home team did managed to force more Lipscomb’s miscues for them to end the night with 12.

Gandia-Rosa thought back on how the defensive presence shifted to limit the turnovers for his team while disrupting the visiting squad.

“In the first half, everyone saw what happened in the first couple minutes,” Gandia-Rosa said. “They were out rebounding us. They were outrunning us. They were just tougher than us. We took pride in our self, we never wanted to look like that and we just brought it back to them.”

Garrison Matthews is the Bison’s leading scorer. Photo by Joslyn Simmons

Matthews had a game-high of 32 points and 12 rebounds as he lead four other teammates in double digits scoring. To prepare for Lipscomb’s hot handed shooter, former player Beau Beech assisted at practice in the role of Matthews.

Gandia-Rosa had a 26 point performance while he also lead four other members with double figures as well.

North Florida was outscored in the paint 54 to 33, but was nearly even on the statline of points of turnovers, second chance baskets and productivity from the bench.

The men’s basketball team will remain at home and face the Kennesaw State Owls on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.    



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