Seniors shine against Bisons

Zach Yearwood, Sports Reporter

Featured image by: Darvin Nelson

Five seniors, 17 combined seasons, and 5,349 total points. UNF’s men’s basketball team’s class of 2020 has left quite the mark in North Florida’s record books and in the NCAA as a whole. The seniors led the way in the team’s final home game of the regular season on Saturday, defeating the Lipscomb Bisons, 82-74.

Darvin Nelson
Carter Hendricksen scored 22 points in the win over Lipscomb.

The Birds of Trey lived up to their name in the first half. After hitting two three-pointers within 15 seconds of each other in the first minute of the game, they put their foot on the gas and let the shots fly.

North Florida pushed the lead up to 20 points with just under six minutes remaining in the half.

The Bisons, on the other hand, were determined to not let the Ospreys run away with the game. They overcame allowing 12 first-half three pointers and worked their deficit down to single digits by halftime, thanks to a strong performance by the Swiss army knife at center, Ahsan Asadullah.

“We shot 26 percent [in the second half] and still won, which means we got a lot of stops in the second half,”  JT Escobar said.

Despite a poor offensive performance in the second half, UNF managed to hold on to win the game. The team shot a meager 8-of-30 (.267) from the field and 3-of-12 (.250) from deep.

“I’m more proud of the fact that we came out and got stop after stop after stop,” Coach Driscoll said. “They only scored 10 points in 12 minutes, so I was really proud of that.”

Lipscomb fought tooth and nail in the second half to try and claim the lead but were unable to do so. The comeback effort was stunted when their do-it-all center fouled out.

Although sophomore Carter Hendricksen led the way in scoring with 22 points, all of the seniors made key contributions to the win. 

Ivan Gandia-Rosa recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 assists while Escobar scored 15 points. Garrett Sams and Wajid Aminu each scored 12 and Aminu added nine rebounds and two blocks. Ezekiel Balogun, although he only played two minutes, also got on the board with two points and contributed to some key defensive possessions.

Following the Ospreys’ 2015-2016 season, many were concerned about the team’s future and if Coach Driscoll would be able to fill the void left by a senior class that included Beau Beech and Dallas Moore. Based on their performances on the court and their impact on the UNF community, one could argue that Driscoll’s current group of seniors filled the massive shoes and then some.

The win solidifies UNF’s playoff seeding: the team can’t finish worse than second in the conference now. Thanks to this, they are now guaranteed home court in the first game of the ASUN Championship tournament (and the second game if they win the first).

The Birds of Trey will conclude their season on the road against Stetson on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m.

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