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Thursday, February 22, 2007
Feb. 22, 2007
After enjoying a three game win streak in Allen Arena, the Bisons could not continue the streak on the road losing Thursday night to North Florida 73-64.
"(North Florida) played very hard and they wanted to win more than we did, that was obvious," Head Coach Scott Sanderson said. "I thought they played very, very good. They got some timely stops and they made some timely baskets. They deserved to win."
By defeating the Bisons, North Florida gained their first Atlantic Sun Conference win of the season. North Florida snapped a 15-game losing streak, a 32-game losing streak to Division I opponents, and a 22-game losing streak, the longest in the country, in Atlantic Sun play.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead with 18:25, the Bisons would trail the Ospreys the rest of the game.
Playing a 2-3 zone defense for most of the night, the Bisons relied on three-pointers in the first half to provide offense, but the problem was the three-pointers were not falling. The Ospreys took advantage of the Bisons poor shooting in the early going, and used an 11-0 run to help spark them as they headed into the locker-room.
"You have got to make shots," Sanderson said. "We put so much pressure on our defense. Even in the first half when we start the game, we have absolutely great looks, we just didn't make them. It is hard because you are eventually going to break, and tonight we broke."
The Bisons shot just 1-for-14 from behind the arc in the first half and trailed at halftime 32-27.
In the second half, Trey Williams scored his only three points of the night in the first thirty seconds on a three-pointer to bring the Bisons to within two points at 32-30. However, North Florida was not to be denied, as they answered in the second half every time the Bisons got close.
North Florida scored five unanswered points after the Bisons cut the lead to two points. At the 12:08 mark, the Bisons cut the lead to 43-40, but then saw North Florida go on an 8-2 run to lead by nine points with 8:01 to play.
The Bisons made one last charge in the final eight minutes of play, and it looked as if North Florida might fall apart. With five minutes to play, the Bisons cut the lead back down to two points at 53-51.
The Bisons could not get over the hump, and North Florida started to smell the victory when they responded with an 8-0 run that put them up 61-51 with two minutes to play.
For the game, the Bisons had three players in double figures. Eddie Ard finished the night with 15 points, 12 of the points coming in the first half. Michael Teller scored 12 points, and Brian Fisk finished the night with a game high 21 points.
North Florida placed four players in double figures. Chris Timberlake led the way with 16 points, while Germaine Sparkes added 14 points. James Grimball finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points and 10 rebounds. Arnold Henry also had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bisons finished the night 23-of-66 from the field for 34.8 percent, 10-of-40 from behind the arc for 25 percent, and 8-of-13 from the free throw line for 61.5 percent.
"Again my problem with it was for the first 35 minutes we shot too many three-pointers during that time," Sanderson said. "We have got to get more shots to the basket. They shot 35 free throws to our 13, and that is a direct result of us shooting 40 threes, not getting to the paint, getting into the lane and getting better shots."
North Florida shot 23-of-51 from the field for 45.1 percent, 3-of-13 from behind the arc for 23.1 percent, and 24-of-35 from the free throw line for 68.6 percent.
"Ever since (the Belmont game), we have gone in two different directions," Sanderson said. "(Belmont) has played three very good games and we have played three very poor games, and we have been fortunate to win two of those games. We just didn't play very good tonight. We have gone in opposite directions the last three games."
The Bisons will travel across town to take on Jacksonville in the final game of the regular season on Saturday. In all likelihood, the winner of that game will finish in third place in the league, while the loser will fall to fourth in the standings. Gametime is set for 5:00 PM CST.
"It will be important," Sanderson said. "We have to re-group and come out and do the best we can do, and that is all we can do."