Men’s basketball outmatched in season-opening loss to No. 2 Gonzaga

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

SPOKANE, Wash. – The University of North Florida (UNF) Ospreys began their 2022 season on Monday, falling to the second-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs in a 104-63 loss.

The Zags – as they’re affectionately known – have established themselves as one of the 21st century’s premier college basketball programs, living up to this in a wire-to-wire win over the Ospreys. It didn’t take long for Gonzaga to pull away, coasting to an easy win.

UNF head coach Matthew Driscoll opted for a smaller lineup, sending out three guards to start off the evening. This was an interesting decision, as Gonzaga’s bigs subsequently had a field day, scoring 66 of their total points in the paint. 

Opposing players battle for positioning near the rim.
Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther (0) shoots while defended by North Florida forward Jadyn Parker (24) and guard Chaz Lanier (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022, in Spokane, Wash. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

While one’s starting five isn’t locked in place for the game’s entirety, this size advantage did damage early. The Zags quickly jumped out to an expansive lead, destroying any hope Osprey fans may have had.

Going into the halftime break, Gonzaga led 53-23. While the game was clearly out of reach after just twenty minutes of play, that didn’t mean that the Ospreys couldn’t benefit from the experience. No one wants to get blown out, but having an early test against a powerhouse like Gonzaga can help provide UNF with valuable lessons going forward.

One bright spot for the Ospreys was the tandem performance of team leaders Carter Hendricksen and Jose Placer, who were both plagued by injury last season. Hendricksen led the team with 16 points and eight rebounds, contributing on and off the glass. Placer added twelve points, knocking down two three-pointers.

An area that clearly bit the Ospreys was free throw shooting. When playing such a dominant opponent, you have to take advantage of every chance you get for points. This often comes in the form of free throws, but UNF didn’t do much to help themselves, hitting just 59% of their shots from the charity stripe.

An upside of a blowout like this is that many players who might not normally see the court all that often get a chance to essentially practice against some of the country’s best competition . The Ospreys experienced this in the fullest Monday, emptying their bench and utilizing all 13 players on the roster.

While Monday’s result was rough, things don’t get any easier for the Ospreys. Their West Coast trip continues on Friday with a road duel against the Washington Huskies, who will likely prove to be yet another challenging opponent.

If UNF excels at what they can control, they might just make things interesting in Seattle as they will look to end the opening week on a positive note.


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