Behind a 24-point outing from senior Willie Green and redshirt-freshman Brian Pegg’s second career double-double, the Stetson men’s basketball team held on for a 77-73 overtime victory against visiting USC Upstate on Saturday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.
“This was a tough basketball game,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said. “We knew that coming in. They have excellent basketball players. I thought our guys fought for the entire game. They fought through regulation, and they fought in overtime.”
The Hatters (5-14, 3-4) scored the final four points of regulation on two free throws by Green and Pegg, and a tip-in by Pegg to tie the game and put it into overtime. Pegg’s successful tip after a 30 second timeout tied the game at 70-70 with 41 seconds to play.
After the Spartans’ (9-10, 2-4) final possession of regulation opened with a missed three-pointer, it continued thanks to an offensive rebound that went out of bounds off of the Hatters. With only 14 on the clock Stetson decided to use its final foul to give to disrupt Upstate’s rhythm, and giving the Spartans’ only seven seconds to work with.
The Hatters locked down on defense, forcing a turnover in the final seconds as senior Raymone Andrews slid in to steal a pass into Ricardo Glenn in the post.
Stetson held USC Upstate scoreless for the final 2:53 of the second half, and the defensive stand continued to start the overtime period. The Spartans weren’t able to get any points on the board in the extra period until there were just 54 seconds remaining in the game. Stetson held Upstate with a point for nearly seven minutes at the most crucial time of the contest.
Green’s jumper from the baseline put Stetson up 72-70 less than a minute into overtime, and the Hatters used their defense and their ability to get to the line to close out USC Upstate 77-73. Stetson knocked down five free throws in the final 3:41 to secure the victory.
Coming in as the second best rebounding team in the Atlantic Sun Conference, USC Upstate failed to outrebound Stetson as the Hatters pulled down 41 to the Spartans’ 39. Pegg led the way for Stetson with 13 boards, while adding 10 points for his second double-double in the last four games.
The Hatters did a tremendous job of sharing the ball on Saturday, compiling 22 assists on 26 total field goals. It was a season high for Stetson and marked the first 20-assist outing for the squad since Jan. 31 of last season against Jacksonville.
“Guys are being unselfish, they’re looking for their teammates, and everybody’s buying in,” said Williams.
Andrews, after sitting out against ETSU, came back to lead the way with eight helpers. The point guard came into Saturday second in the league during conference play with 5.4 assists per game. He improved that mark to over 5.8 assists per game this weekend.
Pegg and senior Hunter Miller, who started in place of Andrews for the second straight game, added four assists each. Both only turned the ball over once, which was crucial for the Hatters who finished with just 12 turnovers as a team. Miller added nine points in the victory.
Green was as effective as ever on the block and from the baseline, recording double figures for the 13th time, and totaling 20 or more for the fourth time this season. The senior scored 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 8-of-11 from the line.
USC Upstate’s dynamic duo of Ty Greene and Torrey Craig led the way with 20 and 17, respectively, but it took them a lot of shots to reach those totals (18 and 21). Graham and Miller were integral pieces on the defensive end of shutting down the Spartans’ top scorers.
Stetson will return to the court on Thursday, playing at Kennesaw State at 7:00 p.m. The game will be featured on ESPN3, as well as the Hatters Radio Network.
“We are starting to learn how to win,” Williams said. “You can see it in their eyes. These close games have allowed us not to get rattled, and to execute under duress.”