Men’s basketball “shares the sugar,” rolls through Bethune-Cookman

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The University of North Florida Ospreys utilized a full-team effort on Saturday to take down the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 88-48.

Following a tough pair of losses, the Ospreys returned home to UNF Arena, where they are undefeated during the 2022-23 season. The Wildcats entered with a better record, but UNF’s hot start put Bethune-Cookman on the ropes early.

A 12-2 run to start the game propelled UNF to a strong lead, one they never relinquished. Despite only scoring 42 points in their last outing, the Ospreys dropped a total of 52 points in the first half against the Wildcats alone.

A key factor was UNF’s three-point shooting, with the Ospreys knocking down 11 attempts from deep in the first half. 

Jose Placer goes up for a lay-in
Jose Placer brought the energy on Saturday, making plays on multiple occasions that sent UNF Arena into a frenzy. (David Heitz)

The three-day break between games allowed the Ospreys to work on offense, something that guard Jose Placer and head coach Matthew Driscoll pointed to postgame. 

“We got in the gym and saw what working in the gym can do,” Placer said. 

“Fruits of your labor, you reap what you sow,” Driscoll added.

Placer led the way for UNF, contributing 21 points and four assists in the win. Joining him in double figures were three other Ospreys: guards Jarius Hicklen and Oscar Berry and forward Carter Hendricksen. 

Coach Driscoll appreciated the contributions from all over the roster, credited the veteran nature of this team.

“The thing that [this program] is built on that we’ve gotta continue to do and understand is we’ve got to get out of our own way [and] we’ve got to share the sugar,” Driscoll said. “[We had] 22 assists on 31 made baskets.”

Perhaps even more impressive than all of the scoring was UNF’s stout defense. The Ospreys held Bethune-Cookman to just 48 points on the night, with only one Wildcat breaking into double-figures scoring.

“We were locked in from the start with the personnel,” Berry said following his first start at UNF. “When we get stops early, that brings energy for the whole game.”

These stops were evident in the paint, with UNF forwards Jadyn Parker and Dorian James combining for five blocks Saturday. Bethune-Cookman struggled all afternoon getting anything going inside, which, combined with a 15% success rate from deep, brought their offense to a screeching halt.

UNF emptied the bench in the later minutes of the game, which saw scoring slow down for the home team. Nevertheless, the Ospreys closed things out with a 88-48 win, their second 40-point win in as many weeks.

The Ospreys will now enjoy a lengthy break with final exams upcoming. Their next action will come on Saturday, when they return to the Steel City to face the Pittsburgh Panthers. Going forward, Coach Driscoll wants to see his team continue to improve shooting.

While UNF shot 55% from three-point range in the first half, this number sank to 27% in the second half. Three-point shooting has historically been a strength for this program, but consistency from deep has been an issue at times this season.

Days like these serve as a great boost of confidence, which could be critical as conference play looms on the horizon. 


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