Ospreys chip away 20-point lead to defeat Lions

Video by Kaitlyn Bowers

Zach Yearwood, Sports Reporter

Featured image by: Darvin Nelson

A 20-point deficit was not enough to hold the Ospreys women’s basketball team on Saturday. The team fought relentlessly through the second half to snap their three-game losing streak, defeating second-place North Alabama 67-65.

“We just chipped away,” head coach Darrick Gibbs said about the comeback. “We were very resilient; we were focused and locked in.”

The game began slowly as both teams struggled offensively. This was emphasized by the 11-11 score at the end of the first half and both teams shooting a combined 8-31 (.258).

Both the conference heavyweights traded blows in the second quarter. UNF appeared to be gaining momentum after a series of plays went their way, including consecutive fast break scores by Janesha Green off of steals and Jazz Bond sending a shot into the stands.

This momentum was short-lived. North Alabama would take the air out of the crowd with a quick pair of threes to begin a run of 15 unanswered points. They would go into the locker room leading 40-28.

“Our shot selection led to transition opportunities for them to be able to get out and run and get wide-open threes, get layups in that run,” Gibbs said. “In the second half we were more precise with where we shot the ball and were able to limit their transition game.”

Coming out of the break, the Lions continued their aerial assault on the Ospreys. Emma Wallen hit a quick pair of threes to begin the quarter and North Alabama’s lead quickly jumped up to 20 points.

The Ospreys had a mountain to climb in order to avoid their fourth consecutive loss. They knew a deficit this big would not be overcome in a few possessions. Despite North Alabama’s best efforts to maintain their lead and put the game away, UNF kept their composure and continued with their game plan.

After multiple trips to the free-throw line and a few easy buckets inside, a 20-point game went down to 12. By the time the third quarter was over, the Ospreys brought the lead down to just nine points.

North Florida chugged forward, forced misses and rebounded aggressively in the fourth quarter. The team regained the lead with just over two minutes remaining in the game, 61-60. A nice move inside gave Jazz Bond a wide-open layup off a pass from Victoria Patrick, pulling the lead up to three. After this, the Ospreys were able to hold on to their lead at the free throw line, hitting all four of their final attempts.

The difference between the Ospreys’ first-half perimeter play on both sides of the ball was night and day from that of the second half. Instead of throwing up three-pointers at the same rate as the first half, the Ospreys settled for more inside looks and got to the free throw line more often.

Defensively, North Florida took away the Lions’ three-point attack and held the deadeye Wallen sisters to 3-for-10 shooting from deep.

The comeback effort took almost the entire second half and near-perfect execution from the Ospreys.

Janesha Green led all scoring with 19 points, along with two steals and three assists. Jazz Bond recorded a double-double, racking up 18 points and 12 rebounds along with two blocks.

This win moves the Ospreys up to 7-5 in the ASUN (14-11 overall) and punches them a ticket to the ASUN Championship Tournament in March.

Their next game will be at home on Monday, Feb. 17 against Jacksonville at 7:00 p.m.


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