Men’s basketball team fends off Kennesaw State’s rally

DeAndre Pearson


Video by Joslyn Simmons


North Florida men’s basketball team survived a rallying Kennesaw State Owls, and edged them out in an 85-78 victory at the UNF Arena Jan.13.

Head coach Matthew Driscoll described the team’s bounce back mentality that has been seen during the season.

“I thought we very did a great job of being resilient,” Driscoll said. “I think that is the one word that is probably going to resonate with this team unfortunately for the year.”

In the first half, sloppy play plagued both teams early and frequently. Kennesaw State and North Florida racked up almost 20 turnovers in the half. UNF jumped out to a quick lead behind Trip Day’s early performance. During the opening half, Day led all scorers with 10 points while James Scott led the Owls with nine.

Midway through the half, the Ospreys began to create some separation with trips to the free throw line and knocking down threes. Kennesaw State responded by attacking the paint and earning their own trips to the free throw line to bring the game within one. Physical gameplay from the Owls made life difficult for the Ospreys. UNF managed to hold on to a one point lead of 35-34 going into the break.

Coming out of the half, the Ospreys continued to trade baskets with the Owls. Early and often, Kennesaw State Guard Nick Masterson was red-hot, shooting 7-for-11 from the field after only scoring two points in the first half.

Day touched on the changed defensive presence that all five guys had on the floor, which lead to stalling several Owls’ possessions and slowing Masterson down.


“We just had to do the little things,” Day said. “Play as a team and trust each other.”  

Personal fouls became a huge factor for both teams in the late stretch of the game. Kennesaw State starters James Scott and Jordan Jones fouled out late in the matchup. Day and Noah Horchler were in foul trouble with 4 fouls each, which created issues on an already thin group of forwards. Despite the foul trouble from both forwards, UNF continued to battle in the paint defensively while not drastically changing their approach and protecting the rim. 

It took a group effort from the Ospreys to ensure and maintain the lead over the Owls. Free throws were a saving grace for North Florida. The Ospreys were 86 percent from the free throws with Ivan Gandia-Rosa shooting 10-10 from the line. This is Gandia-Rosa’s third game on the season where he was perfect from the free throw line.

Day’s performance of 18 points combined with Horchler’s 15 points and 13 rebounds and the double figures performances from Escobar, Sams and Gandia-Rosa helped the Ospreys hold on and seal the win on their home court.

Nick Masterson led the Owls with a 24 point performance. He led two other members in double figures.

The Ospreys will be on the road for their next game against NJIT on Jan. 18.