UNF led by as many as 11 points late in the second half however, a late run by the Belmont Bruins resulted in a UNF loss, 69-67, Feb. 5 inside the UNF Arena.
The Ospreys were coming off a 72-62 home win over Lipscomb, Feb. 3, who happened to be the only Atlantic Sun team that had beat Belmont heading into the Feb. 5 matchup. Lipscomb had downed the Bruins, 73-64, Jan. 25.
“We should just win the game,” said head coach Matthew Driscoll. “I don’t understand why we chose to be different during that time segment. All I know is you’ve got to be able to take your game to another level when the game is taken to another level. And Belmont is not going to quit.”
Both teams battled early. UNF struggled out of the gates, not scoring a point until there was 16:15 left in the first half. Junior forward Matt Sauey ended the opening drought for the Ospreys, who scored the next seven points to take a 7-6 lead, with 14:12 remaining.
While there would be four first-half lead changes, Belmont controlled most of the first half. They build an eight point advantage late in the half, however, sophomore guard Parker Smith, who seemed to be the Ospreys only source of offense in the first half, gave UNF the momentum heading into halftime, after scoring the last six points of the half to bring the score to 28-26.
Smith scored 18 first half points and finished with 30 for the game.
“Obviously it is the second time around in conference so a lot of teams are pressuring up a lot more and not trying to let me especially catch and shoot,” Smith said. “They’re crowding me because I’m a shooter. I just take what the defense gives me. If they are crowding me up to much I’m just going to do the other thing because I feel like I can shoot off the dribble and catch a shoot just as well.”
The Ospreys came out of the locker rooms with a sense of urgency. Senior point guard Brad Haugabrook scored 12 second half points, as the Ospreys took the lead and built it to 59-48 with 6:30 to play.
However, senior forward Jordan Campbell caught fire in the second half, scoring 19 of his 21 points, and helping the Bruins to their come-from-behind win. Campbell went 7-7, including 5-5 from 3-point range in the second half. Belmont outscored UNF 21-8 in the last six minutes of the game.
Sauey had a chance to tie the game with 1.8 seconds left and the Ospreys trailing, 68-66. However, Sauey missed the second after making the first, allowing the Bruins to escape with the win. UNF shot 11-26 from the charity stripe.
“We just shot pitiful from the free throw line today,” said senior point guard Brad Haugabrook. “We got to fix that to close out games and be a great team.”
UNF will take the court next, Feb. 8, at Jacksonville University, for the second of two matchups between the cross-town rivals, in the “River City Rumble.”