NASHVILLE, Tenn. - No. 3 North Florida made a season-high 16 three-pointers - one away from tying the ASUN Championship record - to advance to its second ASUN Conference Men's Basketball Championship Final in the past three seasons with a 91-85 victory vs. No. 2 Lipscomb at Allen Arena on Thursday night.
The Ospreys went 12-for-14 from three-point range in the first half to open a 45-32 lead at halftime, and never allowed the Bisons to get closer than eight points in the second half. Dallas Moore scored 10 of his 18 points in the second half to lead five Ospreys in double figures. Garrison Mathews was the high scorer for the Bisons with 29 points.
ASUN All-Freshman Team selection Garrett Sams got things rolling for the Ospreys in the opening minutes as the sharpshooter connected on his first four triples to give North Florida an early lead. Both teams traded three-pointers in the early going as the first seven made shots were from behind the arc. At the midway point of the first half, North Florida led 25-19, behind 8-of-10 shooting at that juncture.
North Florida's defense stepped up in the final five minutes of the opening period, as the Ospreys used a 12-4 run to close out the half and take a 45-32 lead into the break. Aaron Bodager and Sams combined for 25 points on 8-of-9 shooting from behind the arc to lead the North Florida attack. Moore dished out six assists in the opening half, finding the open shooters after Lipscomb's defense had held the ASUN Player of the Year to just eight points.
The second half saw a more aggressive Moore as he looked to drive in the lane and the senior scored on several floaters over the Lipscomb big men to maintain the Ospreys' double-digit lead early in the second half. The Bisons got the deficit down to eight at the 14:15 mark, but North Florida responded with a 10-0 run, including triples from Aaron Horne and Osbourn Blount to push the lead to 65-48.
Lipscomb continued to battle until the very end, as the Bisons went to the press in the final five minutes and started to find success turning the Ospreys over. After trailing by 21 points at the 3:16mark, Lipscomb scored 20 points in the final three minutes, but it was not enough to complete the comeback. The Ospreys advance to their third ASUN Championship Final all-time, second in the last three seasons.
The Bisons' run in the ASUN Championship ended tonight, but with a 20-13 overall record, Lipscomb looks to continue its season in the postseason. Lipscomb will await to see if a postseason opportunity opens up.
No. 2 Lipscomb vs. No. 3 North Florida Semifinal Notes
- North Florida made 16 three-pointers tonight, one shy of the ASUN Championship record. That record stands at 17 made triples by Stetson in 1994
- Balanced scoring was the key to North Florida's victory as the Ospreys placed five players in double figures. Dallas Moore led the team with 18, while Aaron Bodager (15) and Garrett Sams (13) were next for North Florida.
- North Florida surpassed the 90-point mark for the eighth time this season, pushing its record to 8-0 in those games. The Ospreys went 3-0 against Lipscomb this year, scoring 90 or more in each victory.
- Josh Williams scored 13 points for the Bisons tonight to surpass the 1,500 career point mark. The senior now sits on 1,506 points, which ranks 38th all-time in ASUN history.
- Garrison Mathews scored his 1,000th career point tonight, becoming the fastest Lipscomb player in the team's Divison I-era to reach the milestone.