It was another tragic ending for the Ospreys on Monday as the potential game-winning shot rattled out at the buzzer.
UNF entered Monday’s duel seeking their first ASUN win of the season. Their opponent, the Kennesaw State Owls, came into the meeting on a hot streak. The Owls rolled through the competition in their first two ASUN games, beating FGCU and Stetson by an average of 26 points.
Much like Saturday’s loss to JU, the game was tight and physical early on. The score remained close throughout the first half, but there was one stark difference from UNF’s last appearance: three point shooting. Through just eight minutes of play, the Ospreys had already matched the total number of three-pointers made on Saturday.
“That’s something we’re working on every single day,” UNF guard Jarius Hicklen said postgame. “We’re consistently putting up shots, so eventually they’ll fall.” Hicklen stayed true to this mentality Monday, sinking five shots from beyond the arc en route to a 17 point performance.
While the three-point shooting was a source of success in the first half, this didn’t continue after halftime. Making only 20 percent of their three-point attempts in the second half, the Ospreys had to look elsewhere for production.
One usual go-to source for this team is veteran forward Carter Hendricksen. This well ran dry, though, as Hendricksen fell to the floor in the second half, clutching his head. No update was available as to Hendricksen’s condition.
While this could potentially be a concern in the coming weeks, it was also of immediate importance. In addition to Hendricksen’s exit, leading scorer Jose Placer was not available to play tonight due to an injury of his own. The Ospreys were going to have to figure this one out without either of their star players.
UNF needed someone to step up, and Jarius Hicklen answered the call. This may be his first year with the team, but you wouldn’t be able to tell based on the leadership the Dallas native exhibited on Monday. Ironically enough, the fate of the game came down to him.
In the closing minutes, Kennesaw State held onto a small lead. The Ospreys continued to chip away at it, eventually giving themselves a chance to tie. Missed free throws down the stretch greatly hindered the chance of a UNF win, but it didn’t write them off entirely.
The Ospreys were yet again forced to intentionally foul to extend the game. An eerie sense of deja vu set over the crowd as the student section roared to life in an attempt to distract the free throw shooter. Surely fans wouldn’t have another JU ending on their hands, right?
KSU’s Spencer Rodgers missed the second free throw, giving UNF a chance with one second remaining. The miss was rebounded and Jarius Hicklen launched the ball down the court as the buzzer erupted. Backboard. Rim. Out.
More heartbreak at the buzzer… Last-ditch heave by Hicklen rattles out as the Ospreys fall to Kennesaw State 62-60, dripping to 0-5 in ASUN play. pic.twitter.com/fvclrtSPeV
— Riley Platt (@rileycplatt) January 18, 2022
In an ironic twist, the shot that was released from the opposing three-point line had just a bit too much on it. It happened again. How could this be?
This 62-60 defeat marks the team’s fifth straight loss, and is the third consecutive home game that the Ospreys have lost by three points or less. While UNF now sits at 0-5 in conference play, that record doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what has transpired in these tight games.
“For whatever reason, we haven’t been able to make it come to fruition down the stretch when we’ve really needed it,” said UNF Head Coach Matthew Driscoll. “It’s a place none of us want to be.”
Once again, things don’t get any easier for Coach Driscoll’s squad. Their next outing comes on Thursday at 12 p.m. against the Florida State Seminoles on the road. While this is a bit of a down year for the Noles, the Ospreys are going to have to give it all they have in order to break the losing skid.
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