The men’s basketball team fell short against the Jacksonville Dolphins 65-58 on Jan. 11 and the North Florida Ospreys 85-78 on Jan. 13, leaving the Owls without a conference win.
Jordan Jones and Tyler Hooker led in scoring for the Owls, putting up 14 and 16 points respectively. As a team, the Owls were unable to find a rhythm from short or long distance, making just one-third of their shots, including one of 16 from three-point range.
Led by Jones and Hooker, the Owls started the game with a defensive mindset. Sloppy play from the Dolphins enabled the Owls to blow the game open. However, after taking a 12-6 lead seven minutes into the first half, a dunk from Jacksonville’s Antwon Clayton swung the momentum back into the Dolphins’ favor.
Nick Masterson found himself on the board with a pair of free throws, pushing the score to 22-14, but the Dolphins kept his stats limited for the rest of the game. Masterson’s average three-point percentage sits just above 50 percent, but he was held to 0-3.
Jacksonville fought back and pulled within two points, but Hooker scored four of the Owls’ last eight points to end the half at 32-25.
Hooker opened the second half scoring seven of the team’s first nine points to extend the lead to 41-29, and just as the Owls were distancing themselves, a sudden 14-0 run by the Dolphins erased the lead.
After shooting 44 percent in the first half, the Owls were held to 23 percent from the floor in the second.
It was in the final minutes that Jacksonville freshman JD Notae, a candidate for ASUN Freshman of the Year, scored six of eight points on an 8-4 run and eight of the team’s final 16 points to seal the win for the Dolphins.
The Owls continued to seek their first conference win on Saturday, as they stayed in the city of Jacksonville to face North Florida. The Ospreys were coming off a conference victory against Lipscomb, and they have only lost once at home all season, with four of its players averaging at least 10 points per game.
Nick Masterson rebounded from the previous game, dropping 24 points for the Owls, but it wasn’t quite enough to give the Owls a victory. The Ospreys led by one point at the half, and initially opened up a large lead. Masterson led the comeback effort by scoring 21 of his points in the second half and kept the Owls in the game.
Penalties ended up being the demise of the Owls as the Ospreys frequently found themselves at the free throw line, converting 32 of their 37 attempts. Most of the second half was very tight between the two sides, but the only thing separating the teams were a few free throws.
The loss puts the Owls at a 4-14 overall record and still without a conference win. The offense has provided itself with multiple scoring options, and the defense has been improving in recent weeks. Avoiding penalties and keeping possession longer will be an important factor in upcoming games for the Owls.
The Owls next matchup is against the Stetson Hatters on Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Convocation Center at 7 p.m.