Late surge not enough for Ospreys to overcome large deficit

Kaitlyn Bowers

Zach Yearwood, Sports Reporter

Featured image by: Darvin Nelson

“Live by the three, die by the three.” This adage rang true for North Florida’s men’s basketball team as the Birds of Trey lost to NJIT at home, 78-66.

Darvin Nelson
Ivan Gandia-Rosa dished out six assists in the loss to NJIT.

UNF struggled to shoot the ball throughout the night, hitting 25 of their 57 shots (.439) and knocking down only six of their 23 three-point attempts (.261).

All eyes were on NJIT’s standout junior, Zach Cooks, coming into the game. Instead, the Ospreys had no answer for San Antonio Brinson and Shyquan Gibbs. The pair combined for 58 points and hit some big shots down the stretch to maintain the Highlanders’ large lead.

The Highlanders capitalized on 10 first-half turnovers by the Ospreys, scoring 16 points off those turnovers. The Ospreys’ lack of early offensive rhythm did not keep them out of the game, however. The team only went into the half trailing by nine points.

Senior Wajid Aminu led the Ospreys with seven points at halftime. Brinson had 19 points going into the locker room.

The opening of the second half was all NJIT. In the first 10 minutes, the Highlanders went on a 24-15 run fueled by 13 points from Brinson and seven from Gibbs. The lead during this run got to as much as 18 in favor of NJIT. 

The Ospreys, however, would not go down without a fight. An 11-2 run sparked by some quick hands on defense and six points by Aminu brought the game back to within single digits with just under five minutes in the game.

NJIT was able to hold the ball for the full 30-second duration of the shot clock on multiple consecutive possessions to run the clock out with very little answer from the Ospreys.

Wajid Aminu finished the game with a team-high 20 points along with seven rebounds and a pair of blocks. As expected, Aminu would trade the big performance for a win.

“We know that anybody can score in our offense, but we just need to step it up on the defensive side next game,” Aminu said.

UNF Head Coach Matthew Driscoll attributed the loss to NJIT’s ability to dictate the game.

“They made all the plays you make when you want to win,” Driscoll  said. “When the torrent rains come, and the flood waters rise really high and the wind is just beating you down, if you have a house on sand it’s going to go away. Tonight, I felt like we were a sandcastle – instead of on a rock – toward our adversity.”

The loss drops the Ospreys to 10-9 (3-1 ASUN) while the Highlanders snag their first conference win and improve to 4-12 (1-2). The Birds of Trey will look to get back on track in the next episode of the River City Rumble at JU on Thursday, Jan. 16 at 7:00 p.m. 


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