Ospreys drop close one in homecoming game

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The UNF men’s basketball team lost its homecoming game, 78-75, Friday night against Mercer, inside the UNF Arena.

“Obviously give Mercer a lot of credit,” said head coach Mathew Driscoll. “When you’re playing that way and you’re winning and you have that kind of confidence I don’t think it ever shakes you. And that’s the one thing we haven’t gotten to this year.”

UNF (Record) was coming off a three-game road trip in which they dropped two to Jacksonville and East Tennessee State respectively. They split those losses with a 63-55 win over USC Upstate, Feb. 11.

The Ospreys started strong. They appeared to feed off the energy of the 2,402 fans who filled the UNF Arena, as junior and senior guards Jimmy Williams and Brad Haugabrook combined for nine points in the four minutes. The Ospreys jumped out in front early, 11-2, with 15:36 left in the first half.

Mercer had an answer in the form of senior forward Brian Mills who scored the first 10 points of the game for the Bears. Mills sparked a 24-9 run by the Bears who built a 24-16 lead with 8:51 remaining in the first. Mills finished the game with a game high 34 points.

“He just a senior that knows when to take over,” Williams said. “Late in the season he’s putting the team on his back. That’s what we need to find on our team.”

Both teams battled in the second half that saw nine lead changes. Williams had a chance to put the Ospreys up with 3.7 second remaining. However, his layup attempt got blocked, securing the victory for the Bears.

“I mean every night you’re not going to be hitting but I don’t think we needed that to win,” Haugabrook said.

Haugabrook led the Ospreys with 19 points. Williams added 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

The Ospreys will host Kennesaw State, Sunday at 4 p.m., in their home finale. UNF picked up a 71-56 win at KSU last time the two met, Jan. 20.

“We got two choices,” Driscoll said. “Either take inventory next Saturday or win. It isn’t like it’s magical what we have to do. We have to win plain and simple.”