Men’s basketball drops heartbreaker to FGCU in final seconds

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The University of North Florida men’s basketball team lost in devastating fashion to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in a 68-66 thriller on Thursday.

The Ospreys entered Thursday’s contest with a head full of steam following a sweep of arch-nemesis Jacksonville University last week. As for the Eagles, theft looked to break a five-game losing streak that has tanked their position in the ASUN conference standings.

On paper, things didn’t get off to a favorable start for UNF. The Ospreys typically rely on three-point shooting for a good bit of their production, but this wasn’t the case in the first half, only converting on two of 14 attempts.

Jarius Hicklen looks on during game
Jarius Hicklen was one of four Ospreys to score 10 or more points on Thursday. (Riley Platt)

Adding to UNF’s setbacks was a rough night for leading scorer Carter Hendricksen. The veteran struggled to get anything to fall, making just one of 12 shots throughout the evening. Many of these were painstakingly close to going in, but it just wasn’t his night.

Despite the adversity, the Ospreys entered halftime down just one point. Many things weren’t going their way, but it could’ve been much worse. One factor as to why they were able to hang in there was forward Jadyn Parker, who led the team in scoring with 16 points. 

The rough showing for UNF’s stars early on could have let FGCU run away with it, but this never happened. The game was back-and-forth all night long, with the biggest lead consisting of just five points, held by the Ospreys.

As things wound down, it became apparent that every possession would have to be executed to perfection. Unfortunately for the Ospreys, this perfection was out of reach. A defensive slip-up left FGCU forward Dakota Rivers wide open in the corner from three-point range.

Rivers was the last player on the court expected to pull up from deep, but he didn’t let that stop him. He let it fly, awkwardly banking a three-pointer off the glass to propel the Eagles to a two-point lead with just 12 seconds remaining.

UNF guard Jose Placer led the charge down the court, putting up a shot that – if it fell – would have tied the game. It didn’t go, though, and the Ospreys fought for a rebound that never materialized. The clock expired and UNF lost by just two points in a soul-crushing defeat.

The Ospreys won’t have time to sulk, though, as they’ll be back in action Saturday against the Stetson Hatters. Obviously, no one wants to lose this way. However, that doesn’t mean there weren’t any positives to be taken away from the loss.

With their leading scorer being held to just three points, the rest of the squad responded. Four Ospreys posted double-figures in scoring. It serves as a great reminder of what each individual player can bring to the table when a teammate struggles.

This resilience will be necessary as the Ospreys look to bounce back against a talented Stetson squad, who will be no easy defeat.


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