Gamecocks fall prey to the North Florida Ospreys, breaking ten game win streak

Photo courtesy of Thomas Ashworth

Justin Travis, Correspondent

Playing back at home for the first time after a short road stint, the men’s team was greeted with a rowdy home crowd that sadly led to a 88-76 defeat. In a matchup against a team that is coming off of a one win month, Jacksonville State was caught off guard by the tenacious 5-17 team.

North Florida  got off to a soaring start by running the court fast and shooting from deep, hitting four quick threes, carrying the lead to 16-8 forcing an early JSU timeout. After getting killed with offensive rebounds and a flurry of three point makes, the Gamecocks stormed back with a barrage of paint points and sealed a 12-4 run to cut the lead to 25-29 with a little over eight minutes to play in the first half. Capping the fantastic run with an empathic dunk by Darian Adams, forcing a UNF timeout this time. Responding from their forced timeout with a pair of threes the Ospreys were able to build the lead to ten with a 35-25 score with a little under four minutes to play in the half.

Fueled by a myriad of offensive rebounds of their own from Kayne Henry and great defensive effort from the whole team, the Gamecocks were able to cut the score to two possessions going into the half. Trailing just 35-31 at half, Jacksonville State was led by Brandon Huffman with 12 early points, as he was the only Gamecock in double figure through a half of play. On the other side, Jose Placer for UNF scored 13 points, almost matching his season average of 14.3 points per game early on. 

The second half started off much like how the first half did, with UNF running and gunning in transition from deep, and JSU focusing more on half court offense and low post work. North Florida was able to balloon the lead to 51-40 after five minutes of play in the second half. The Ospreys took the biggest lead of the game, 60-44, after forcing the second Jacksonville State timeout by Coach Harper with 11 minutes and 35 seconds left to play. The next few minutes of play was much the same, UNF was hitting open threes consistently throughout and JSU was struggling to get their own open shots to fall.

Frustration came to ahead when Darian Adams drove to the basket, and with the belief of numerous players and the hundreds of fans in attendance, was fouled. Sadly the referees did not see it this way. This led to Coach Ray Harper storming the court at the ref and picking up a technical foul with 3:43 to go down by 17. The frustration did not stop there, as the whistles continued to ring out from the referees, a good number of which were not quite appreciated by the “Friendliest Campus in the South.” 

The game ended with Carter Hendrickson of North Florida scoring a game high 27 points, shooting 6-11 from behind the arc. He was nearly matched in scoring by his teammate Jose Placer who had 25 points. For Jacksonville State, Brandon Huffman led the team with 19 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks. Jalen Finch and Darian Adams were not far behind scoring 16 points of their own.

The Jacksonville State Gamecocks (15-7) will play their next game this Saturday, February 5th, at 4:00 p.m. against the Jacksonville University Dolphins (13-7). This will be their second straight game at home.

Justin Travis, Correspondent

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