Ospreys edge past Golden Eagles in nail-biter

Zach Yearwood, Sports Reporter

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Featured image by: Lili Weinstein

Video by: Brett Nweeia

There seems to be a common trend of late-game drama for the UNF Men’s Basketball team when they play at home this season. That trend continued as the Ospreys eked out a 66-63 win against Southern Mississippi at UNF Arena that came down to some clutch free throws late in the game. 

The Birds of Trey’s aerial assault began immediately, with sophomore Carter Hendricksen knocking down a three pointer within the first 10 seconds after tipoff. The team’s next two makes were also threes, taking a 9-2 lead in the first five minutes of play.

The Golden Eagles would spend the next seven minutes on a 24-10 run, led by Artur Konontsuk who scored nine points. With just under eight minutes left in the first half, Southern Mississippi held a 26-19 lead.

The Ospreys, however, would not end the half quietly. With seniors Ivan Gandia-Rosa and Wajid Aminu each scoring six points in the stretch, the Ospreys cut their deficit down to two before their last possession of the half.

The final points of the first half came from Hendricksen, who hit a three to take a 35-34 UNF lead. 

Hendricksen led all first half scoring with 13 points. Gandia-Rosa also played a strong half, scoring eight points and racked up five assists.

“I just had open looks… If I’m open, coach wants us to shoot it, so I was just taking what I got and let it fly,” Hendricksen said about his first half play.

The second half was an even more contested affair. Both sides had to fight tooth and nail for each point. UNF Men’s Basketball Head Coach Matthew Driscoll placed emphasis on rebounding and defending. 

“Defense and rebounding have been the things that we’ve talked about,” Driscoll said. “The way in which we kept guys in front of us and the way in which we contested shots… it separated things.”

The team struggled to hit free throws for most of the game and it almost came back to haunt them. However, despite a 1-8 start from the line, North Florida was able to hit six clutch free throws within the last two minutes to seal the game.

The Golden Eagles would not go down without a fight. They sparked a late 10-2 run, reducing the lead from nine to one with 16 seconds remaining. 

Freshman Emmanuel Adedoyin played a large role for the team in the second half, putting up 10 points including two free throws to take the lead back up to three points.

After one more layup from the Golden Eagles knocked the lead back down to one, Gandia-Rosa iced the game with two free throws with four seconds remaining for a 66-63 win. 

The win improves the Ospreys’ record to 3-1 and the squad will play Trinity Baptist College at home on Monday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. 

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