Senior guard Brad Haugabrook missed a would be game-winning 3-pointer as time expired, and the UNF men’s basketball team lost 71-69 to its cross-town rival, the JU Dolphins, Feb. 8 at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Ospreys were looking to avenge a 63-62 overtime loss Jan. 26 to the Dolphins inside the UNF Arena. However, rebounding and missed free throws hurt the Ospreys again down the stretch.
“That’s what this game is about on both ends of the floor,” said head coach Matthew Driscoll. “Whoever rebounds the ball and makes free throws wins this game every year since I’ve been here.”
Much like the first meeting between the Ospreys and Dolphins, neither team was able to pull away early. UNF jumped out in front to start the game, grabbing a 7-2 lead with 16:14 remaining in the half after senior guard Brad Haugabrook connected on a fast break lay up.
JU wasn’t about to get run out of their own gym, though. An 11-2 run, sparked by five points from senior forward Ayron Hardy, gave the Dolphins their first lead of the night, 17-13, with 9:28 remaining in the half. Hardy had nine first-half points. It was a lead the Dolphins would hold for the rest of the first half as they took a 35-30 advantage into the locker rooms.
Most of the Ospreys first-half offense came from sophomore forward Andy Diaz, who kept UNF in the game with his 12 points. However, the 3-point shot, a staple of the Ospreys’ offense this season, was non-existent in the first half. UNF only attempted three shots from behind the arch in the first half, missing all three.
Both teams battled back and forth in the second half. JU scored the first four points of the second half, building their largest lead of the night, 39-30. However, the 3-point shooting came alive for the Ospreys in the second half. Sophomore guard Jerron Granberry buried four from behind the arch and helped the Ospreys take the lead 61-59, with 4:43 to play.
The teams traded baskets in the closing minutes. With the score tied, 69-69 and 11 seconds to play, JU sophomore guard Russell Powell connected on a tear-drop over sophomore forward David Jeune that would win the game for the Dolphins. After Haugabrook missed as time expired the JU celebration began.
“That last shot really didn’t determine who won the game,” said junior guard Jimmy Williams. “But it was just everything that came with it. Rebounding, free throws and it’s just a man’s game when you’re out there. When it comes to the last finish to the games you got to be a man about it.”
The Ospreys had four players in double figures. Sophomore forward Andy Diaz led the way with 22 points and seven rebounds. Granberry added 18 and Williams and Haugabrook finished with 10 apiece. UNF’s leading scorer on the season, sophomore sharpshooter Parker Smith, was scoreless with just three field goal attempts for the game.
Senior forward Ayron Hardy led the way for JU with 15 points and nine boards.
UNF has now lost three close games to upper echelon Atlantic Sun teams — the two losses to JU and the Feb. 5 loss to Belmont. With the top tier team behind them, the Ospreys are looking to build some momentum as they head towards the postseason.
The Ospreys will play two more road games before returning home, first facing off against USC Upstate Feb. 11. They then travel to Nashville, Tenn., to play East Tennessee State Feb. 13. UNF will return home Feb. 18 to play Mercer.