Preview: Lady Ospreys flock to ASUN tourney for QF matchup against UNA

John Watson, Sports Editor

Featured Image: Justin Nedrow

Why would anyone drive to a small town in the middle of Georgia with a population of just over 33,000? There’s only one reason… to win ASUN conference matchups and to win titles. As Kennesaw State University hosts the ASUN women’s basketball tournament, the North Florida Ospreys hope to bring home some new hardware.

After an 11-5 conference record and 8-2 at home, the Lady Ospreys are looking to make a splash in this year’s conference tournament. (Justin Nedrow)

Ranked as the number three seed in this year’s tournament, the Ospreys own their highest postseason seeding rank in program history. While the Lady Ospreys have a matchup with the North Alabama Lions to look forward to on Thursday evening, the matchup holds more than meets the eye.

Regular-season success and Sunday woes

With an 11-5 ASUN record, the Ospreys were able to play every single ASUN school in a series. One significant stat was that the Ospreys were 7-1 in series-opening conference games this season. On the flip side, they were 4-4 in their back half matches. Head coach Darrick Gibbs says that the team’s recent sweep against Bellarmine has encouraged the team.

“We played well with pretty much all of our Saturday’s with the exception of Gulf Coast on all of our Saturday games,” Gibbs said. “And then our losses have come on Sundays, and to see us actually play a better game on Sunday and win on Saturday was really encouraging going into the tournament.”

Lions on the hunt

North Alabama finished sixth in the ASUN standings this year after going 6-9 in ASUN play and was swept by the Ospreys in the series earlier this season. While it was a two-game sweep, the Lions held close both times, with the first being just a three-point win for the Ospreys and the second being just a five-point win.

One of this North Alabama team’s strengths is their ability to score in transition and create open opportunities for their players. In preparation for this, the Ospreys will try and tame a Lion attack that can score buckets in no time.

“They really do a good job spacing the floor, creating advantages in transition. So we have to do a really, really good job there,” Gibbs said. “Their actions offensively are pretty dynamic in terms of the ball and body movements. So we got to make sure that we’re defending it and being in the right spots.”

Battle of the Bonds

Jazz Bond and Jaida Bond. A bond separated by state lines and conference rivalries. In Jaida’s two games against the Ospreys this season, she combined 51 points on 18-31 shooting. While reigning ASUN defensive player of the year, Jazz Bond will try to settle down her sister’s hot shooting. The two seem to have a little history coming into this one.

Jazz has a little bit of bragging rights over her sister, named to ASUN first-team all-conference, while Jaida was named second-team all-conference. The bond between the Bonds will be tested as they compete against each other on Thursday night.

Osprey Optimism

With ASUN-leading Florida Gulf Coast University now ranked inside the top-25 in the AP poll, there will be an uphill climb for the Ospreys to cut down the nets at the ASUN tournament and take home the hardware. For Coach Gibbs, however, the sky’s the roof.

“Using the experiences we’ve got throughout the course of the year, take it as we’re feeling good about where we are, and we’re ready to roll and see how far we can take this thing,” Gibbs said.

The Ospreys will take on the North Alabama Lions at 7 p.m. at Kennesaw State’s Marietta Campus Gymnasium. The game will be aired on ESPN+. Follow along with UNF Spinnaker for more updates and recaps in the realm of UNF Sports.


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