Ospreys cap regular season with sixth straight win

Bruce Hope, Sports Reporter

The University of North Florida Ospreys entered the final home game of the regular season on a five-game winning streak, looking for a sixth, in hopes of securing at least one home game in the upcoming ASUN conference tournament.  UNF pulled it off with a 10-point win, 77-67, to finish the regular season.

Khorri Newton
Redshirt-Junior J.T. Escobar attempts a three-pointer

“I couldn’t be more proud of what these guys have done.  I couldn’t be more proud of how they’ve persevered. I couldn’t be more proud of how they’ve endured,” said Head Coach Matthew Driscoll of the win and the finish to the regular season.

Junior Ivan Gandia-Rosa opened the game with a three-pointer from the top of the arc that touched nothing but net.  On the very next possession, Redshirt-Junior J.T. Escobar knocked down a triple of his own. Two minutes into the game, the Ospreys were up eight, and Stetson had not yet gotten onto the scoreboard.

After getting out to an 8-0 lead, and then 13-8, the action began to seesaw. Stetson fought back to take the lead multiple times in the first half.

UNF threatened to pull away with about five minutes remaining in the first half, getting out to a 25-18 lead.  Stetson went on a run and cut the lead to 27-25 on two tough layups in the half court and a three in transition.

Stetson’s Sophomore Christiaan Jones led the way early for his team scoring 13 points in the first half, including two big dunks.

The Ospreys led 31-29 at the half.  They were led by Junior Garrett Sams’ nine points and six rebounds.

UNF was playing well enough midway through the first half to blow the game open but committed nine turnovers before the break.

During the second half, the Ospreys led by as many as 13, but Stetson hung around every time the game looked to be getting out of reach.

After a sloppy first half, the Ospreys cut down drastically on the turnovers, committing only 2 in the second.

Stetson had four players score in double figures in the game, Jones and Freshman Jalen Crutchfield both with 15.

Sams led the team with 23 points and 11 rebounds (a double-double). Aminu was held in check, scoring 12 points, but dominated on the defensive end with four blocks in the game to ignite the Ospreys and the home crowd.

“Wajid is just a beast…he blocks everything.  We love him because he makes us look a little better when we mess up on defense.  We know that if we mess up, Wajid is gonna be there to kind of save us a little bit,” said Sams of Aminu’s defensive effort.

Hendricksen set a career-high with 19 points.

The win puts the Ospreys at 15-16 (9-7 ASUN) on the season.  The loss drops Stetson to 7-23 (3-12 ASUN). The Ospreys will host a quarterfinal matchup in the ASUN Championship Tournament against an opponent to be determined on Monday, March 4 at 7 p.m.

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