Men’s basketball keeps it close, comes up short late against Washington

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The University of North Florida (UNF) Ospreys found themselves in position to defeat the Washington Huskies late on Friday, but couldn’t close it out in a 75-67 loss.

The Ospreys are no stranger to starting off the season with games against big-name opponents. They usually aren’t given much of a chance in these games, but they didn’t let that stop them on Friday.

The game got off to a competitive start, with both teams trading blows throughout the first half. UNF made the most of their chances during the opening 20 minutes of play, knocking down four three-pointers to jump ahead going into the break. 

Players high-five each other
Teammates Carter Hendricksen (3) and Jarius Hicklen (10) posted a combined effort of 30 points and 14 rebounds Friday. (UNF Athletics)

Much different than Monday’s loss at Gonzaga, the Ospreys entered halftime with a 34-28 lead. Guard Jarius Hicklen led the way with nine points, outdoing his points total from the opener in just half the time.

As the second half began, the Huskies began to claw their way back into it, cutting the deficit to two points in less than three minutes of action. UNF held their own, though, opening the lead back up intermittently during the half’s early stages.

Hicklen’s play carried over from the first half, keeping the Ospreys in the lead despite their tough opponent. Hicklen led UNF with 19 points on the night, knocking down four of the team’s eight makes from three-point range.

As with the opener, size down low was an issue for UNF. Another three-guard look in the starting lineup contributed to the Huskies outscoring them 46-30 in the paint. This wasn’t a death sentence for the Ospreys, though, as they outshot Washington mightily from deep, allowing them to stay in control.

This game was as close as could be. From the 12-minute mark until less than three minutes remaining, the gap was never greater than four points. The Ospreys weren’t just hanging in there, they were doing things their way on the road against a Pac-12 program.

Unfortunately, this is where things began to slip away. The Huskies opened up their lead to eight points with just over two minutes left. It may have looked bleak, but it was far from over.

The deficit gave UNF’s shooters a green light to fire away, something that brought them back into contention. A pair of clutch three-pointers from guards Jose Placer and Hicklen narrowed the gap to just two points with one minute remaining.

Washington answered in the form of a jump shot by guard Keyon Menifield. Down 71-67, a rushed three-pointer by UNF forward Carter Hendricksen didn’t go, essentially ending the game. Even with a make, the Ospreys still would have trailed, but it was a calculated risk that could have paid dividends.

Intentional fouls and subsequent makes from the line by the Huskies closed it out. A 75-67 loss is by no means representative of the game as a whole, but Washington did what they had to in order to survive. 

This will be a tough pill to swallow, but Friday’s loss showed what this team is capable of. A performance can be all it takes to inspire a roster that, after two consecutive losing seasons, can use all the confidence it can get.

The Ospreys will have a bit of a break, as they will next take the court on Saturday to face South Carolina State in the home opener. This will serve as their first game in the newly-renovated UNF Arena, so they will be sure to make the most of this opportunity to pick up their first win of the season and get things going in the right direction.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].