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Ospreys fall to Belmont in A-Sun Championship

MACON, Ga – The UNF men’s basketball team magical run towards an Atlantic Sun championship came to an end Saturday night, as the Ospreys couldn’t matchup with the size of Belmont, losing 46-87, inside the Mercer University Center.

It was all Belmont from the start, who physically outmatched the Ospreys on both the defensive and offensive end of the floor. Belmont led by as many as 42 points on its way to collecting its fourth Atlantic Sun Championship.

“I’m sick,” said head coach Matthew Driscoll. “We’re better than this. We didn’t get here on accident. I expected to win. They [the players] expected to win, and I’m sick.”

The Ospreys gave up 23 offensive rebounds, which tied FAU’s record for most offensive rebounds in a championship game. The Bruin’s dominance on the offensive boards led to 21 second-chance points, proving to be too much for UNF to overcome. The Ospreys were also were outscored in the paint, 48-20.

Leading the way for Belmont was junior center Mick Hedgepeth, who was named the Atlantic Sun Tournament Most Valuable Player. Hedgepeth scored 23 points, while corralling nine rebounds, six of them coming on the offensive end of the floor. Hedgepeth scored 17 points and grabbed five rebounds in the first 20 minutes, helping Belmont to jump out to a 39-21 lead at halftime.

“We didn’t fight hard enough,” said sophomore forward Andy Diaz, who was named to the All-Tournament team. “They’re already longer so we should fight that much harder and we didn’t”

Belmont did not let up after the first. Looking to close the game out, the Bruins outscored the Ospreys 25-12 in the first 10 minutes of the second half to take 33-64 lead, all but closing the door on the Ospreys’ season.

UNF struggled offensively. When they did get shots off they shot well at 45.9 percent but they turned the ball over 22 times – something hard for any team to overcome. Belmont turned those 22 UNF turnovers into 36 points. UNF only managed to score five points off of the Bruins’ nine turnovers.

The Bruin defense also was able to slow down UNF’s two leading scorers on the year, sophomore guards Parker Smith and Jerron Granberry. The pair combined to shoot just 1-9 from the field for only five points. Senior guard Brad Haugabrook led the Ospreys with 10 points. Granberry was also named to the All-Tournament team.

“They were just being real physical with us,” Granberry said. “They were making sure we don’t get open shots or open looks. Credit their defense. They did a great job. And it wasn’t just on me and Parker. They did a great job on the whole team and you know that’s their system.”

The Ospreys were trying to become the first team in Atlantic Sun tournament history to defeat the third, second and first seeded teams during an A-Sun tournament run. While they came up short, Driscoll said with most of his key players being just sophomores, they have a lot to look forward to next season.

“These guys have done a lot in two years that nobody would ever have thought they were going to do,” Driscoll said. “We just need to keep on growing our program. It’s our second year [of tournament eligibility] and we’re playing in a championship. Our accomplishments this year are phenomenal. However, we’re not here to be good guys and patting on the back. We’re here to win this championship and these guys understand that.”

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