Jacksonville Sports Day

MBB: Late First Half Run Turns Tide in UNF Loss at Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The North Florida basketball team was rolling in the first half against Alabama before a late first half surge by the Tide turned the game in a 76-61 loss for the Ospreys on Friday night at Coleman Coliseum.

The loss was the fourth in a row for UNF (7-9) and marked the end of a stretch of six straight road games. Junior Demarcus Daniels led the Ospreys in scoring with 14 points while Chris Davenport scored 11 points andRomelo Banks added nine points and six rebounds in the contest.

After a slow start, North Florida seized the momentm and built a seven-point lead, 30-23, with 6:43 remaining in the opening half. The Ospreys had only committed three turnovers in the game were keeping Alabama (10-3) off balance with changing defenses. 

Rodney Cooper hit a three-pointer to get things started for the Tide, who then closed the half on a 22-7 run to hold a 45-37 halftime lead. UA outscored UNF, 13-2, over the final three minutes of the period.

“We came out and were really flowing on both ends of the floor,” said head coachMatthew Driscoll. “Give Alabama credit for battling back and then we just weren’t able to rebound after the late first half run. Their guys created some turnovers and they were able to hit some key shots and open up a lead. This has definitely been the toughest non-conference schedule our team has ever played and I’m proud of the way our guys battled. We are excited about getting back home and playing a game. Our primary focus is to get our minds right and refreshed for the start of league play next weekend.”

The Ospreys trimmed the halftime lead early in the second half, but the Tide used a 22-10 run over the opening 10 minutes of the half to grab control of the game. UNF refused to quit and closed the game with a 9-2 spurt for the final margin.

Michael Kessens netted an 18 point, 12 rebound double-double to pace Alabama to its ninth straight home win of the season. Levi Randolph (13), Cooper (11) and Riley Norris (10) each tallied double figures for the Tide.

North Florida will next host Trinity Baptist for the final non-conference tilt of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. in UNF Arena. It will be the first home game for UNF since a Dec. 15 contest against Tennessee Tech. Following the game with TBC, the Ospreys begin Atlantic Sun Conference play on Jan. 10 at crosstown rival Jacksonville.

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