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Stetson Defense Strikes Again, Hatters Win on the Road
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  01/12/2008
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Hatters Defense Holds Eagles to 62
by: Stetson University
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Ft. Myers, Fla. Friday night in Ft. Myers the Stetson men’s basketball team rode Garfield Blair’s double-double and A.J Smith’s game-high 18 points to an impressive 70-62 A-Sun conference win over Florida Gulf Coast University.


Blair (Orlando, Fla./Boone HS) finished the game with 17 points and equaled a career-high with 13 rebounds. He was 6-for-13 from the field, and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. The result was Stetson’s first double-double since February 24, 2007 when Blair scored 18 points and pulled down 13 boards against Kennesaw State.


On this night Smith (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa HS) played like the impetus that would not let the Hatters fail. It seemed like every time Stetson needed a score, he would shift and drive his way into the paint and give the team a lift by scoring or getting fouled. Smith hit five of 13 field goal attempts and finished 7-for-9 from the line.


In the first half the Hatters shot 54% from the field and were never down by more than two points. The lead changed hands six times with Stetson’s largest lead of eight points (25-17) coming on a Smith 3-pointer at 8:23. FGCU then went on a 13-5 run to even the score at 30 with 1:17 left in the period. A pair of turnovers later the half came down to a final second jumper by Smith. After the buzzer sounded and the referee reviewed the play on a television monitor, Stetson led 32-30 at halftime.


Acting head coach Wylie Tucker credited assistant coach Jon Coffman with a halftime speech that inspired the players to come out of the locker room and show the Eagles, and the league what kind of team it can be; Stetson did not trail again in the game.


FGCU did tie the score 32-32 with a quick hoop at 19:47. Stetson then went on a 12-point run started by a Blair put-back off the offensive glass and a free throw after he was fouled. The run ended with an Eric Diaz (Miami, Fla./Columbus HS) slam dunk and another pair of free throws by Smith making the score 44-32.


Stetson had not heard the last of the Eagles however as the home team fought back and worked the lead down to three points 55-52 with 4:46 on the clock. The next basket, a 3-pointer by FGCU’s Rob Quaintance, made the Alico Arena’s record-breaking crowd of 4,216 erupt in a roar that shook the building. It did not, however, shake the Hatters’ Mark Lohuis (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach HS).


With 3:17 on the game clock and just two seconds on the shot clock a closely-guarded Lohuis took a pass in 3-point range, forced FGCU’s Casey Wohlleb into the air with a great fake, leaned in and took a hard foul. Lohuis’ ensuing three free throws took the wind out the Eagles and propelled the Hatters to its sixth victory of the season and second win in conference play. Stetson has now won its last two games and four out of the last six.


After playing three of its first 16 games on the road, the Hatters will finally return home for three consecutive games in the Edmunds Center where they have not lost this season. Stetson will play A-Sun opponents Kennesaw State (1/17) and Mercer (1/19) before hosting a rematch against Longwood University (1/21).   These games can be seen LIVE on Hatter Vision!

Stetson Men's Basketball