Men’s basketball bounces back with overtime win at Stetson

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

DELAND, Fla. — After suffering arguably one of the worst losses in program history, the Ospreys got back on track Saturday with a hard-fought road win to close out the regular season.

The UNF men’s basketball squad got off to a rough start in Wednesday’s loss, but this wasn’t an issue on Saturday. The Ospreys came out firing, jumping out to an early 11-0 lead over Stetson to begin the game.

UNF forwards Jonathan Aybar (21) and Jadyn Parker (24) take to a layup line with all smiles earlier in the season against Liberty. (Riley Platt)

As fate would have it, things didn’t stay this way. As the first half progressed, the deficit dissipated and the game became much tighter. Scoring slowed down and Ospreys took a 28-23 lead into the halftime break.

UNF opened up the second half much like the first, with guard Jarius Hicklen leading the charge. Hicklen would go on to score 25 points, connecting on five three-pointers in a big-time performance.

Stetson did close things up around halfway through, but the Ospreys opened the lead back up to a seemingly comfortable margin. Entering the last minute of regulation, UNF led 53-49. However, a series of clutch shots by the Stetson Hatters tied the game at 56 points a piece. A last-ditch three point attempt by Hicklen fell short, sending the game into overtime.

Despite being sidelined with an injury, UNF forward Carter Hendricksen (right) has still contributed by coaching up teammates during games. (Riley Platt)

One major storyline throughout February has been the absence of leading scorers Jose Placer and Carter Hendricksen due to injury. Hendricksen made his return on Saturday, though, seeing his first in-game action since going down with an elbow injury on Feb. 3 against Jacksonville State.

While Hendricksen’s numbers didn’t jump off the page, Saturday served as a great opportunity for the veteran to get back into the swing of things before next week’s ASUN tournament. That being said, Hendricksen did connect on a crucial three-pointer late.

As overtime began, the Ospreys sprung out to a big lead. Just like the beginning of the game, the Hatters made sure to make things closer. Within the final minute of overtime, UNF guard Chaz Lanier broke away down the court and slammed a dunk to essentially end the game.

While a 74-69 win helped end the regular season on a good note for the Ospreys, it wasn’t enough to secure a home game for the ASUN tournament. UNF tied with Kennesaw State for the number four seed in the ASUN East, but Kennesaw State holds the tiebreaker to host a game in the tournament’s first round.

Instead, UNF will take to the road to face Lipscomb on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Every game is now a win-or-go-home situation for the Ospreys, as the squad will have to win the ASUN tournament to qualify for any sort of postseason play. The Ospreys looked poised in Saturday’s win, but they’ll have to play with that same fire to keep their season alive on Tuesday.


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