A warm day in Jacksonville, a day that only Floridians could fathom as a typical winter day, ended with the River City Rumble, the regular-season finale between the Opsreys of North Florida and the Dolphins of Jacksonville University. The two teams began their conference schedule playing against each other on December 3, and the Ospreys won. The regular season would end likewise.
From my apartment a few miles southwest of the UNF campus, it is a seven mile drive down Southside Boulevard through the suburban sprawl of the same-named Jacksonville area. From there, one picks up the Arlington Expressway and passes under the University Boulevard, off of which Jacksonville University is located. Then, just as the driver thinks the suburbia will never end, he ascends the Matthews Bridge and sees that Jacksonville does indeed have a proper downtown. One turn brings him into the sports complex in which the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena is nestled.
Your correspondent and his OspreyBallz companion serendipitously seated themselves next to the de facto UNF student section. The vocal group offered on numerous occasions a call and reply chant of "UNF IS GOOD! JU IS BAD!" and countered the nominal home team's chants of "DE-FENSE!" with "OFF-ENSE!". Ever protective of their players, they offered a "F.U. J.U !" chant when an Osprey was the recipient of a particularly hard foul. And every time one of their players was at the line, they raised their hands together in the air and gave a cry of "SWOOP!" after each successful free throw.
UNF took quick control of the game from the start, opening an 11-1 lead before JU took its first timeout of the game.
While the Dolphins managed to regain control and keep the game from becoming a rout, they never seriously challenged the Ospreys.
Peculiarly, early in the second half, JU's Tevin Galvin twice in two minutes converted OMGDUNX into WTFTEEZ when he marred his dunks by receiving technical fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Fresh off his Atlantic Sun record-tying 46 point performance against Mercer, UNF's Parker Smith scored 17 points while Jerron Granberry was the lead scorer with 20 points.
The game was not as close as the final score indicated. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, JU's coach had called off the dogs and the Dolphins, down by nine, had given up on trying to foul their way into a close finish. A lazy turnover by UNF, however, followed by a JU superhoop closed the gap. Two foul shots by the Ospreys and a token answer basket by the Dolphins closed out the game.
The victory is the first that North Florida has earned "on the road" against Jacksonville University.
With the loss, Jacksonville now must cheer for USC Upstate to defeat Stetson so that the Dolphins may be the eighth seed in the Atlantic Sun tournament. Otherwise, the season is over, ending the same way it did last year, with a loss to UNF.
Then again, it always ends in a loss.
NORTH FLORIDA 70, at JACKSONVILLE 64 02/24/2012
NORTH FLORIDA 16-15 (10-8) -- J. Granberry 4-6 9-10 20; P. Smith 4-10 6-7 17; J. Williams 4-6 0-0 8; T. Wallace 3-9 0-0 6; M. Sauey 3-4 1-3 7; D. Jeune 1-2 0-0 2; W. Wilson 0-2 0-0 0; A. Diaz 2-5 0-1 4; C. McRoy 1-5 2-2 4; F. Landers 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-51 18-23 70. JACKSONVILLE 8-21 (6-12) -- R. Powell 2-7 5-5 9; D. Graham 6-10 1-3 13; T. Galvin 7-13 1-3 17; G. Powell 6-11 0-5 12; A. Cabell 2-7 3-4 7; E. Graham 0-0 1-2 1; C. Davis 1-1 3-4 5; S. Jeffers 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bogus 0-0 0-0 0; J. Geisler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-49 14-26 64.
Three-point goals: UNF 6-12 (P. Smith 3-6; W. Wilson 0-1; J. Granberry 3-4; D. Jeune 0-1), JAX 2-9 (D. Graham 0-1; R. Powell 0-1; T. Galvin 2-5; A. Cabell 0-2); Rebounds: UNF 30 (M. Sauey 5), JAX 28 (D. Graham 6); Assists: UNF 16 (J. Williams 5), JAX 12 (T. Galvin 4); Total Fouls -- UNF 22, JAX 20; Fouled Out: UNF-None; JAX-A. Cabell.