Trailing by six at halftime, Stetson quickly got down double digits and had a hard time recovering, falling behind 50-30 six minutes into the second half. A Garfield Blair-led run brought the Hatters to within 13 points with just under seven minutes remaining, but a Reed Baker three-pointer coming out of an Eagle timeout ended that burst and blunted Stetson’s momentum.
Stetson went on one last furious charge to get back within 10 points with 1:25 to play and even cut the Eagle lead to 72-64 on a Brandon Williams three-pointer with just under 90 seconds to go, but that was as close as the Hatters could get until the final seconds, eventually falling by nine.
Blair made 10 field goals for the first time this season and grabbed eight rebounds in the process. Junior point guard A.J. Smith (
Baker led FGCU with 23 points on six of 12 shooting. Three other Eagles reached double figures: Delvin Franklin (19 points), Kyle Marks (17 points) and Reggie Chambers (13 points, six rebounds, four assists). Addison Smith collected 10 rebounds and six assists.
“Unfortunately, tonight we got beat by a mentally tougher team,” Head Coach Derek Waugh said. “On the bright side, I thought Sheldon Oliver played an excellent game for us tonight.”
Just as they did in Monday’s win at Lipscomb, the Hatters got off to a flying start, beginning the game on an 8-0 run and forcing FGCU Head Coach Dave Balza to call timeout just two and a half minutes into the contest. Both teams started to struggle from the floor somewhat after that, although Stetson was able to maintain a 12-5 lead at the second media timeout of the first half.
FGCU fought back with an 8-0 run that helped it pull ahead 16-14 by the next stoppage in play. That streak reached 18-2 as the Eagles went ahead 23-14 with just over five minutes left in the half, punctuated by a thunderous Kyle Marks slam dunk. Stetson dug in and stopped the bleeding at that point and even got back within three points, but ultimately headed to the locker room trailing 29-23.
Oliver led the Hatters with eight points and five rebounds in the first half and Smith added six. Marks led all scorers with nine points for
Stetson is back in action Saturday at 2 p.m. when it hosts