The Stetson men’s basketball team was unable to convert on the final possession of regulation, and turned the ball over with 11 seconds remaining in overtime as Northern Kentucky defeated the Hatters 67-65 at the Edmunds Center on the first day of 2014.
It was the third straight two-point game played by the Hatters (3-11, 1-1) in DeLand. Unfortunately Stetson was on the wrong end of the scoreboard this time around. The Norse (5-9, 1-1) used a balance attack and 91.7 percent shooting from the free throw line to steal one from Stetson Wednesday evening.
“It was a tough loss for us,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said. “Northern Kentucky played hard from start to finish. They showed resolve, they showed patience, they showed fortitude. They did the things that they had to do to win the game.”
After leading for the majority of the first half, Stetson came out a bit flat in the second half and allowed NKU to take a six point advantage less than three minutes into the period thanks to four straight points from Jordan Jackson.
The Hatters played from behind for most of the second, finally taking the lead when a six-point run was capitalized by a fast break finger roll by junior Kentwan Smith. Stetson’s 52-51 advantage with 4:14 to play in regulation was quickly countered by a layup by Jackson on the other end to tilt the scales back in NKU’s favor.
Down three with just over one minute to play senior Raymone Andrews knocked down his second three-pointer of the game to tie the game at 58-58. After a defensive stop for the Hatters, Stetson’s final possession ended with an off balance triple attempt by senior Aaron Graham that went just wide.
NKU started hot again to open the overtime period, scoring the first five points. Stetson fought back, though, tying the game at 63-63 after a tip-in by Smith and a third three from Andrews evened things up with 2:33 to play.
The two teams traded baskets as well as missed chances before Stetson made one final stop with less than 30 seconds to play. The Hatters worked the clock down to 11 seconds before calling their final timeout.
It was an inbounds pass from Smith to Andrews heading towards the backcourt that was intercepted by the Norse and gave NKU a chance to take the lead. When a three-pointer from Tyler White missed badly, Jake Giesler was there to grab the offensive rebound under the basket and put the ball up and in to make it 67-65 with just 1.2 seconds remaining.
Stetson’s final attempt was executed to perfection as senior Willie Green caught a near three-quarter court pass in stride from redshirt-freshman Brian Pegg, turned, dribbled, and fired a shot from three or four feet beyond the three-point arc. Unfortunately for the Hatters the shot was a few inches long, hitting off the back of the iron as the buzzer sounded.
“We did some things well,” Williams said. “We were behind and we were able to fight back. I like that part of it, but we still have to learn how to finish games. That’s part of the disappointment for me. We had opportunities to win it, and we just didn’t come through.”
NKU went 11-for-12 from the free throw line, while Stetson shot just 12-of-21 from the stripe. Neither team turned the ball over very much – Nine for Stetson, six for NKU – but the Norse were able to turn the Hatter turnovers into 14 NKU points.
The Norse were led by 13 points from Jackson, who fouled out late in regulation. Jalen Billups and White finished with 12 points each.
Stetson was led by Smith and Green, who tallied 16 points apiece. Smith, who also led with a game high nine points, netted a career high in points Wednesday night. Pegg added 12 points and eight boards, while Andrews chipped in with 11 points, six rebounds, and a game high six assists.
The Hatters will conclude their recent homestand on Sunday, Jan. 5. Stetson will host defending Atlantic Sun Conference champion Florida Gulf Coast at 1:00 p.m. on CSS, ESPN3, and Brighthouse Sports Network.