Flames torch Ospreys in wire-to-wire win

John Watson, Sports Editor

Featured Image: Justin Nedrow

As Liberty continued to push their lead, the North Florida Ospreys had to play catch-up the entire game and were forced to try and make a miracle happen. The Flames brought the heat and were focused on improving their impressive 32-game home winning streak in their 73-61 win. 

The front half of this two-game series between the Ospreys and the Flames comes just a week after UNF had to postpone the series due to a positive COVID test result. The extra week to prepare proved to be monumental early on.

After two weeks of waiting to play, the Ospreys struggled to chip away at Liberty’s lead and lost on the road 73-61. (Justin Nedrow)

In the first half, the Flames seemed like they couldn’t miss from deep. Every shot felt destined to find the bottom of the net, and they built an early lead off their hot shooting and perimeter defense. This lead was firmly held by the Flames all game long.

Notably, Liberty guard Elijah Cuffee shot the ball exceptionally well in the first half and helped Liberty extend its lead. Cuffee would cool off in the second half but still managed 11 points on 4-6 from the field in the contest.

Coming into the game, Liberty led the ASUN in scoring defense, holding opponents to just 59.0 points a game. While UNF’s usual high-scorers went unusually cold, Carter Hendricksen was one of the few Ospreys to find success going 6-10 from deep and posting a game-high 24 points.

An unusual highlight of his came as the buzzer sounded at the end of the first-half as Hendricksen drained a half-court heave.

The second half was much of the same for the Ospreys, as Liberty played to their strengths in a dominant win. Finding success in the second game of the series will likely have to start at winning more rebounding battles.

The Ospreys struggled in that category throughout the game, finishing with just 24 boards compared to Liberty’s 39. Flames big-man Blake Preston was a driving force in their rebounding power, grabbing 10 rebounds and finishing off the double-double with 14 points of his own.

Another factor in the loss for the Ospreys was productivity and scoring off the bench. UNF was held to just 11 points from their bench players, and only three came from guys not named Jacob Crews. 

Crews has seen an increased role on the team in recent weeks and saw 21 minutes on the court today. With 8 points and three steals, the freshman will have many opportunities to thrive in Coach Matthew Driscoll’s offense.

As the Ospreys prepare for Saturday’s matchup, rebounding, passing and finding buckets will be some things that must improve to end liberty’s home winning streak. The Ospreys will take on the flames once again at 5 PM on Saturday. Follow along with UNFSpinnaker for more coverage of UNF sports.


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