Ospreys survive strong Kennesaw State comeback attempt, sweep season series

John Watson, Sports Editor

There was a time when the Ospreys led by 20 points and were hitting shots and putting pressure on the Owls. Those good times slowly faded away as Kennesaw State started to cut the lead, and suddenly, the Ospreys were on the ropes.

“A game of two halves,” Driscoll said in the postgame ZOOM conference.

It was a game of momentum. The first half was owned by the Ospreys, and the second half was dominated by the Owls. If this were a two-round boxing match, it would have ended in a tie.

Let’s just say Kennesaw State came to play.

Coach Matthew Driscoll talks to Jonathan Aybar (#21) during Saturday’s home-win against Kennesaw State. (Justin Nedrow)

In the first half, the Ospreys played great basketball and won the battles they needed to win. The team was over .500 on three-point attempts and only allowed 25 points from the Owls. The Ospreys set the lead at 20 going into the break. 

Coach Driscoll compared the second-half effort to a tennis match where his guys were making unforced errors and giving up points because of it. What should have been a knockout half turned into an Owl takeover.

The Owls, led by guard Spencer Rodgers looked rejuvenated in the second half and started playing like they had nothing to lose. Being 0-7 in ASUN play this year, they found a pang of hunger to win and flipped the script.

The Ospreys committed 20 turnovers in the game, with the Owls only committing 12. 14 of UNF’s turnovers came in the second half.

While Coach Driscoll and his squad struggled in the second half, the win showed some things that the Ospreys are good at doing. One of those things is closing out games.

“Whatever has happened, whatever has occurred, even if a coach is upset, we gotta let that go in one ear and out the other,” Driscoll said. “We just gotta do our job and finish.”

The Birds of Trey struggled from deep in the second-half going 0-9 from the arc. (Justin Nedrow)

Another contribution to the win was Osprey point guard Jose Placer who settled in after struggling early in the first half. Although he ended up with five turnovers, he was able to find a rhythm late and starting winning one on one battles with defenders. This led to easy layups to halt Kennesaw State’s comeback attempt.

After the game, Placer spoke about the team’s mentality in the second half.

“I think our biggest thing is that we got comfortable going up 20,” Placer said. “That kind of led to them coming out and dictating the pace like coach said. Our biggest thing was finding a way to finish.”

Simulating a game like this in practice is almost impossible; therefore Coach Driscoll sees the positives of stopping KSU’s comeback.

This experience is going to be great for us because when the day is done, the object is to win,” Driscoll said. “We were able to get the sweep, move to 4-2 and three [wins] in a row.”

As we look at the conference standings, UNF improves to 4-2 in ASUN play with the win from tonight. If North Alabama wins their matchup against Jacksonville, there would be four teams at 4-2 and tied for first in the ASUN.

The Ospreys are scheduled to have another home series next weekend against North Alabama, as that matchup is subject to scheduling conflicts due to COVID-19. The Ospreys will play on Friday and Saturday, and you can follow along with UNF Spinnaker for leading coverage in UNF Sports.


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