|Hats Defeat Jacksonville 72-51, Clinch A-Sun Berth|
Shanasa Sanders and Sasha Sims each scored 18 points to help lead Stetson to a 72-51 victory over host Jacksonville in an Atlantic Sun Conference game Monday night at Swisher Gym.
With the victory, the Hatters (16-6, 9-2 A-Sun) clinched a spot in the Atlantic Sun tournament for the 10th consecutive year.
Sanders recorded her 1000th career point in the first half and finished with 11 rebounds to earn her second double-double of the season. Sims, meanwhile, went 7-for-9 in the second half to help the Hatters pull away.
“I thought our defense was outstanding the entire game,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “In our last game I was very disappointed in our defensive effort. This game I thought our effort was outstanding for 40 minutes, and it was probably one of our best defensive games. I thought we played really well, really hard, and thank God we did because we weren’t scoring early.”
The Hatters struggled out of the gate for the second straight game, hitting just one of their first 13 field goal attempts. The Dolphins (7-15, 3-8 A-Sun) took advantage, building a 12-3 advantage eight minutes into the game and later led 26-14 at the 6:26 mark.
“I thought we had good shots early but we just didn’t make them,” Bria said. “In the last eight to 10 minutes of the half we started to get more into a rhythm."
Stetson turned to its full court press and began to change the momentum of the game, finishing the half on a 9-0 run to take a 35-33 halftime lead.
“I thought our press really generated some turnovers for us right before halftime and that was very effective for us,” Bria said. “It really got us going. We started to get some easy baskets and we needed that. It opened up the basket for us and got our confidence going.”
Sims took over the game early in the second half, hitting five lay-ups in the first five minutes to help extend the lead to 49-38.
“We basically told Sasha to just sprint the floor and we’ll get her the ball,” Sanders said. “She did and she scored.”
Stetson continued to pound the ball inside, finishing the game with a 46-14 advantage in points in the paint. The Hatters also held JU to just 18 points overall in the second half.
"I thought Janelle Mills had a great game," Bria said. "She scored some buckets that we needed and was very good for us defensively. Sasha couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the first half but in the second half she started finishing some plays. You can’t lose your confidence when those things happen, but she stayed aggressive and that’s the main thing."
Victoria McGowan did not start for the first time in her Stetson career but contributed 12 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 35 minutes off the bench.
Stetson will return home for five of their final seven regular season games, beginning with a 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon contest vs. ETSU.
Notes: Janelle Mills played in her 119th career game, tying the school all-time record. Tierra Brown also played in 119 games from 2007-11 … Shanasa Sanders reached her 1000-point milestone while playing in her hometown in front of friends and family ... Stetson has won the last seven head-to-head meetings with Jacksonville, including two in the postseason ... The Hatters held a 14-0 advantage in fastbreak points ... Stetson collected eight blocks in game (four by Sims) and 13 steals.
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