Men’s Basketball loses to Jacksonville State in Cancun Challenge Final

DeAndre Pearson

Photo by Lili Weinstein

After knocking off Southern Miss to advance to the championship round of the Cancun Challenge, North Florida (2-4 Overall) couldn’t pull out the win against Jacksonville State (4-1 Overall).  

In the opening half, both teams struggled to gain the upper hand as  North Florida and Jacksonville State traded points. Jacksonville State began to separate themselves from the Ospreys following back-to-back threes from Redshirt-Junior Ty Hudson. The Gamecocks were ahead by as much as eight points before the Ospreys responded with a barrage of threes from Freshman Carter Hendricksen, Redshirt-Junior J.T Escobar, Junior Wajid Aminu and Sophomore Ryan Burkhardt to erase the deficit and take the lead.

The Gamecocks tried to answer some of North Florida’s points but struggled to prevent the rising momentum from the Ospreys. In the final minutes of the half, Escobar put an exclamation point on North Florida’s run by knocking in a pair of threes before halftime. North Florida was leading over Jacksonville State at the half, 42-37.

Coming out of the half, North Florida struggled to replicate their first half success. During this slump, Jacksonville State was able to go an 8-3 run, taking the lead from the Ospreys before an official tv timeout. From there, the Ospreys faced a steep task of playing from behind as the Gamecocks continued to put points on the board.

Multiple trips to the free throw line also helped the Jacksonville State keep North Florida at bay. Despite a late surge with minutes left, North Florida fell short of defeating Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks would go on to hold on to win the Cancun Challenge, 83-78.

Escobar led all scorers with 24 points and six rebounds. Aminu scored 15 points and four rebounds and Junor Noah Horchler chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds. Senior Jason Burnell scored 23 points for the Gamecocks and Senior Jamal Gregory scored 16 points from the bench.

North Florida will have a short break before going on the road to Gainesville to take on the University of Florida Gators on Nov.27 at 7:00 p.m.

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