The Hatters led by as many as 17 and 36-32 at halftime but saw the lead disappear when they could not make a field goal for the first 6:15 of the second half until Smith drained a three from the top of the key to bring Stetson within one. That was immediately followed by a Tim Lang three that put the Hatters back up 45-43 with 13 minutes left.
The game settled into a physical battle with Stetson getting up by five when Kris Thomas made three free throws after being fouled behind the arc with 9:52 left. Junior guard Brandon Williams (
Lipscomb relentlessly rallied within one point on a Michael Lusk hoop and free throw with 5:03 to go before Stetson re-upped the lead to 64-59 by the final media timeout. Blair took charge down the stretch, stealing the ball from Bisons center Adnan Hodzic in the paint with 1:17 left and finding senior forward Eric Diaz (Miami, Fla.) for a huge three-pointer from the top of the key that put Stetson ahead by seven with one minute to go and ultimately sealed the victory.
“That was a huge pass that
Blair made eight of 15 field goal attempts to finish just three points shy of his season high. Blair and Smith each pulled down four rebounds and handed out three assists. Junior forward Sheldon Oliver (
Hodzic paced Lipscomb with 19 points and Brian Wright added 12. Josh Slater scored nine points and tied for the team lead with Michael Teller at six rebounds apiece. Slater also handed out six assists.
The game started out just the way Coach Waugh would have drawn it up, with a 10-0 Hatter run in the first three minutes. Five different players scored during the run, which was keyed by strong defensive pressure and good transition offense. That momentum sustained the Hatters through much of a low-scoring first 10 minutes. Stetson led 17-11 halfway through the first period.
The Bisons would rally to within two before Blair scored the first five points of a 15-0 run that restored the Hatter lead to a game-high 17 with just over five minutes to play in the half. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Lipscomb went on an 8-0 spurt of its own to cut the Stetson bulge to 32-23, forcing Waugh to call a 30-second timeout. That margin remained relatively constant until the final minute, when Lipscomb finished with a flourish, cutting the halftime margin to four, 36-32.
Smith led all scorers with 11 points in the first half, closely followed by Blair with nine. Hodzic and Wright had eight each for the Bisons.
Stetson, which split its two-game trip to