Stetson shook off a sluggish first half and opened the second stanza on a 22-2 run before finishing off a 65-51 victory over visiting Lynn University Tuesday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.
Nearly 3000 local elementary school students filled the stands on Volusia County Schoolchildren Day and saw the Hatters (4-3) win their third straight game and remain undefeated at home (4-0) on the season.
“It’s really encouraging, this is one of my favorite games of the year,” senior Ashley Dennis said. “We enjoyed ourselves.”
“Having the kids come cheer for us was very exciting,” sophomore Cherisse Burris added.
Burris was one of five Hatters in double figures as she finished with a season-high 13 points. Shanasa Sanders (13 points, 13 rebounds) and Jama Sharp (13 points, 10 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles, while Victoria McGowan and Sasha Sims added 10 points apiece.
A week after hitting a school-record 14 three-pointers against Ball State, Stetson went 0-for-9 from three-point range in the first half and found itself trailing by one at the break, 28-27.
“I thought Lynn did a really good job in the first half, I credit their game plan and their defense,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “I thought we came out a little flat to start the game. We had some open looks, we just didn’t knock down the shots. They stayed aggressive and wound up taking the lead right before the half.”
The Hatters came out of the locker room on fire as Sanders hit a lay-up and Sims netted both a three-pointer and lay-up prompting Lynn (5-2) to call a timeout.
“I thought we came out with a lot more energy in the second half,” Bria said. “Our defense got a lot better and we picked up the tempo. We were playing slow in the first half and that’s not our pace. Once we picked up our defense then our offense got going.”
Stetson’s surge continued as Sharp hit a three, Sanders dropped in a short jumper, and Sims followed with another lay-up to extend the Hatters’ run to 14-0.
Charla Nelson-James helped end that streak for the Fighting Knights, but Sharp and Burris answered right back with two more threes and just seven minutes into the half the Hatters were ahead 49-30 and in control of the game.
Burris helped spark the run from the defensive end with a pair of steals and two defensive boards that led to baskets.
“I thought Cee-Cee had a great game on both ends of the floor,” Bria said. “She missed a couple of bunnies that she doesn’t normally miss but she made the hard ones. She had a couple of deflections to start the second half to get us going.”
The Hatters grabbed a season-high 54 rebounds and held a 54-38 advantage over Lynn on the boards. Sanders collected eight of the Hatters’ 23 offensive rebounds.
“I was very pleased with our rebounding,” Bria said. “We needed to get on the offensive glass and we did. I thought Victoria carried us in the first half, she did everything offensively and defensively. In the second half I thought everyone got on the glass.”
After sweeping its three-game homestand, Stetson will look to keep the momentum going on the road as the Hatters will play their next two games away from the Edmunds Center. This Saturday, Stetson will visit Charlotte at 7 p.m. A week from Saturday on Dec. 15, the Hatters will travel to Boca Raton, Fla. to take on Florida Atlantic at 2 p.m. Audio broadcasts for both games will be available for free on HatterVision.
Notes: Stetson has won eight straight and 20 of their last 21 games at home ... The last time Stetson had 54 rebounds in a game was on Dec. 20, 2010 vs. Youngstown State (also 54 rebounds) ... Sharp recorded her first 10-rebound game and her first double-double ... Sanders recorded her third 10-rebound game and her second career double-double ... Stetson's 14-0 run was the team's longest run of the season ... Of the 160 minutes played at home this year, the Hatters have trailed for only 3:15.