Team falters under pressure

Team falters under pressure

Spinnaker

The UNF men’s basketball team lost 78-38 Jan. 15 to cross-town rival Jacksonville University in the biggest home loss in the program’s history.

Tip-off was about the only thing UNF won Thursday night as JU started the first half with a block, which foreshadowed the rest of the game. UNF attempted to dominate in its Arena that included 2,830 fans, but the pressure seemed too much for the Ospreys.

“I think the pressure of playing a team that was playing really well got to us,” UNF head coach Matt Kilcullen said. “They came right out of the gate and blew up 11-2. We got back reasonable, but then they made another run.”

Junior guard Eni Cuka scored 14 points, hitting 5-of-12 shots from the court and 2-of-5 3-point attempts.

“I could have done better,” Cuka said. “As long as we don’t win, it’s not a good performance. I’m really disappointed.”

Another junior guard, Stan Januska, scored an early 3-pointer and six rebounds to help the Ospreys, but the Dolphins claimed an early 9-2 lead before opening up a 21-point advantage at the half. They held the Ospreys to 15 points in the second half.

JU also forced UNF into 17 turnovers, scoring 22 points off of those turnovers.

Kilcullen wished UNF would have stepped up and given JU a bigger fight through the remainder of the game, he said.

JU shot 44.8 percent for the game, compared to UNF, which shot 29.8 percent. But despite this disappointing shooting average, Kilcullen wasn’t willing to deny JU the credit they deserved, he said.

“They took it to us through every facet of the game,” Kilcullen said. “They ran by us. They jumped over us. They shot better than us. You know Murphy’s Law: whatever could go wrong will go wrong, and it did tonight.”

Four of the Dolphins finished the night with a double-digit point average and game-high individual scores, including Marcus Allen with 17 points and Ayron Hardy with 12 points. Lehmon Colbert scored 11 points and Travis Cohn scored 10.

“I don’t like to say the word intimidated, but it just looked like they had us playing on our heels the whole night,” Kilcullen said. “They were the aggressor in every situation, and their athletic ability is outstanding.”

The turnout of UNF fans was outstanding as well, said UNF Student Body President John Barnes, who hopes for large numbers in the future, he said.

The team’s next home game is 7 p.m. Jan. 30 against University of South Carolina Upstate.

E-mail Heather Furey at [email protected]