Strong night from stars not enough as men’s basketball falls in road duel

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – A combined 33-point effort from veterans Carter Hendricksen and Jose Placer on Thursday helped fuel a strong effort for the University of North Florida (UNF) Ospreys that ultimately fell short against Jacksonville State University (JSU). 

The Ospreys were back in action looking to avenge a rough loss to Florida Gulf Coast on Saturday. This wasn’t going to be an easy task, though, facing the JSU Gamecocks, who are fresh off of a March Madness appearance last season.

Things were close early, but the Gamecocks opened up a double-digit lead around the midway-point of the first half. The Ospreys fought back in the closing minutes, ending the half on a 11-2 run.

Down just two points, the game was back in reach. This resilience didn’t go unnoticed, with UNF head coach Matthew Driscoll pointing to this following the game.

“To our guys’ credit, they punched us in the mouth early, then we rose up again in the first half,” Driscoll said

This momentum carried past halftime, with UNF taking the lead quickly thanks to a Jarius Hicklen three-point shot. The Ospreys opened this lead to five points, but were never able to put some distance between JSU and themselves.

The Gamecocks hung around, taking the lead back with seven minutes remaining. From here on out, JSU maintained a small-but-steady lead, one which they never surrendered. Multiple last-ditch attempts from three fell short, allowing JSU to win 72-63.

While close losses always sting, Coach Driscoll knows that his team has what it takes, but just has to do a better job of executing in the closing moments.

“Those little details make the biggest difference in these one-possession games,” Driscoll said. “To their credit, they made plays and we didn’t.”

The Ospreys have a quick turnover, continuing the road trip with a battle against Kennesaw State on Saturday. The Owls have been strong this year, but UNF came away with a dramatic win in their first meeting courtesy of a Jose Placer game-winning three pointer.

With the ASUN Conference deeper than it’s ever been, no games are easy. The Ospreys will have to fight for every win this season, something that will only continue as the weeks pass.


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