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Women’s basketball prepares for JU

The UNF women’s basketball team won four of its last five games. Now it is set to host its cross-town rival, the Jacksonville University Dolphins, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. inside the UNF Arena in the “River City Rumble.”

The Ospreys (6-12, 4-5 Atlantic Sun) are coming off a Jan. 24 letdown to Atlantic Sun bottomfeeder Kennesaw State, where the Ospreys fell 54-50 at the KSU Convocation Center. However, head coach Mary Tappmeyer insists her team was not looking ahead to its in-town foes.

“Lipscomb, [USC] Upstate and East Tennessee State were three of the top four teams in the league, so it’s easy to get up for those games,” Tappmeyer said. “Kennesaw and Mercer were at the bottom of the league. When you’re playing against a team that’s scratching, clawing, fighting, to do whatever they can to get a first win, they are a little more desperate.”

Now, with a quick turnaround, the Ospreys must put the wins and the losses behind them and focus on the next game. With only two days to prepare, Tappmeyer is trying to keep a normal schedule, but she also knows this isn’t just another game.

“You would like to treat it like any other game, but I think the turnaround time is really quick,” Tappmeyer said. “We’ll do some shooting and some running today [Tuesday] and then do our game planning tomorrow [Wednesday] before we play JU on Thursday.”

The Jan. 27 game may have a little more bite to it than usual. The Ospreys have had some recent success against the Dolphins (9-9, 4-5 Atlantic Sun). UNF won two out of three meetings between the two schools last season, including a 50-46 win in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

This is the first meeting between the Ospreys and Dolphins this season, but with the recent history, some players said the game will be a little more emotional.

“We play them a lot, we know their personnel,” said sophomore guard Jadhken Kerr. “It doesn’t matter our records or anything. This game is our big rival, cross-town rival, so it’s always an emotional game.”

The Ospreys have been led so far this season by junior guard Brittany Kirkland, who is averaging 15.2 points per game.

JU has had a balanced scoring attack with four players: Ashanti Williams, Taneska Richardson, Gigi Thomas and Lynsey Paschal, who all are averaging double figures. Also, Crystal Bell is adding nine points per game for the Dolphins. In order for the Ospreys to be successful, they will have to figure out a way to slow down the JU balanced attack.

“I think most times, we don’t worry about the other team as much as we worry about ourselves,” Kirkland said. “I think we’re going to really focus on our strength which is defense for JU. Most of the time it’s not about the other team but more about how we play and how we perform.”

The home crowd always plays a large role the “River City Rumble,” whether it be up 9A on the JU campus or in the confines of the UNF Arena. The Ospreys players and coaches are expecting the crowd to come out and give them that extra boost to beat the Dolphins.

“[The crowd] played a huge role for us last year,” Tappmeyer said. “When we started to blow it open the crowd went nuts, and that just really energized us. Especially when we’re coming off our fourth game in eight days.”

The Ospreys are planning a “white out” for the game, so the UNF Athletic Department is asking all fans to wear white in support of their Ospreys.

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