Shooting woes plague UNF in season-ending loss to North Alabama

John Watson, Sports Editor

While the Ospreys had their hopes of hopping on the team bus with cheerful spirits after their ASUN quarterfinal game, it didn’t turn out to be that way. Instead, UNF was dealt a loss that will likely sting for a while.

The Ospreys suffered a season-ending loss to North Alabama on Thursday afternoon as the Lions defeated UNF 68-60. UNA will now face Liberty in the ASUN semifinals after they defeated Kennesaw State by 10 just about an hour before the Ospreys suffered their loss. 

While UNF’s loss can be attributed to many things, an effective UNA game plan saw the Ospreys make critical mistakes in the first half. Things like perimeter defense, rebounding, and points in the paint set the tone early, and UNF felt the heat.

The usual “Birds of Trey” looked off in Thursday’s affair, going just 5-26 from deep in the game

In the first half alone, the Ospreys would fail to make a three-point shot going 0-8 from deep. While pressure came from all angles, UNF kept the score close and manageable and tied the game up, going into the half at 27 apiece.

Coming out of the half, the Ospreys knew that they needed to start making shots fall from beyond the arc and keep the ball moving to create open opportunities. While an early run from UNF saw their biggest lead of the game, the Lions kept their eyes on the prize and made key defensive stops down the stretch.

UNA thrived on their ability to outsize defenders in the post and score buckets, and grab rebounds. Lion forward Emanuel Littles was particularly unstoppable on both sides of the basketball posting 20 points and 13 rebounds. Also contributing to the Lion attack was forward Mervin James, who also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

While the Ospreys kept shooting, the shots were just not falling at the right times. On the Ospreys 13th three-point attempt, Emmanuel Adedoyin finally got one to fall, and there was a spark of hope for the Ospreys. But, the Lions had a spark of their own with six minutes left as they pulled away and left the Ospreys begging for air.

At this point in the game, the Lions had run it up to their largest lead of the game at 10 points, and the Ospreys attempted a comeback with just about three minutes left on the clock. Too little too late was the theme of those last minutes as threes were finally raining for the Ospreys, but UNA was near perfect from the free-throw line in the last few minutes to seal the game.

Head Coach Matthew Driscoll had some words about his team’s effort down the stretch after the game.

“I like the way our guys figured things out and worked at the end to try and mount a comeback.” Driscoll said, “We were able to make some shots finally, but it was too little, too late.”

While many factors can be attributed to Wednesday’s loss, one of the main things to take away is not a negative one but more of a positive one. Unlike last year’s heartbreaking loss to Lipscomb, this year’s team is young, and key players’ development has just begun.

Currently, the Ospreys have one senior on their squad in Ryan Burkhardt, with all starters expected to return next season.

While this loss will certainly be the end of one story, it marks the beginning of a new story that has yet to be written in the history of UNF athletics.


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