TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a bizarre one hour and twenty-two minute delay to wait on officials that were never assigned for the game, the Stetson men’s basketball team came back from a 14-point deficit against Florida A&M, only to come up short, 63-60, at the Al Lawson Center on Thursday night.
Once officials finally arrived and the two teams hit the court, it was the home Rattlers (1-2) who took control in the first half. Forcing Stetson (0-3) into 11 first half turnovers, and receiving a phenomenal 19 first period points from senior point guard Jamie Adams, Florida A&M jumped out to a 32-23 lead after the first 20 minutes.
After a three-pointer from the corner by freshman B.J. Glasford tied the game up at 16-16, the Rattlers used a 16-2 run late in the half to take a big 32-18 lead.
A timeout by head coach Corey Williams calmed the Stetson waters, which led to a three-pointer by senior Aaron Graham on the ensuing possession. The Hatter defense then stepped up, as junior Kentwan Smith stole the ball from Adams and threw down a thunderous dunk on the other end to cut the FAMU advantage to just nine points at the break.
Stetson wasn’t able to get into a rhythm in the first half, much like in the first two contests at Clemson and Notre Dame, and the Hatters couldn’t contain Adams, who was making contested long range shot after contested long range shot. Adams went 6-for-8 form the field and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc in 17 first half minutes.
It was a different story in the second frame as Stetson turned the ball over just four times, and held Adams to only four points in the final 20 minutes.
The other thing that got the Hatters back into the game in the second half was the offensive play of freshman Raekwon Harney. The speedy point guard scored nine of his 12 points in the second half, beating the Rattlers off the dribble, finishing in the lane, and creating for his teammates. Harney’s driving layup with 10:48 to play brought Stetson within four points, at 44-40.
Graham, who led Stetson with 14 points in the game, pulled the Hatters within just two points when he knocked down his second three of the contest with 7:06 to play, and then made it a two point game once again when a driving floater made it 59-57 with 1:48 remaining.
After Rattler Reggie Lewis made one-of-two free throws on the next possession, Williams called a timeout to set up the next Stetson offensive set. The Hatters executed the play to perfection as Harney found senior Willie Green open in the post, and the big man converted on a conventional three-point play to tie the game at 60-60 with 1:14 left.
A great defensive stop by the Hatters the next time down court, which culminated in a box out and rebound by redshirt freshman Brian Pegg – starting the first game of his career on Thursday – was followed by another Stetson timeout.
As time was running out on the Hatters, Pegg found senior Raymone Andrews on a perfect backdoor play from freshman to senior for a layup in the lane. After noticeable contact in the paint, on a play that may have been called a foul if it hadn’t been so late in the game, Andrews missed off the back of the rim and the rebound went to Florida A&M.
A foul on Stetson on the Rattlers’ final possession sent Lewis to the line for three shots. The FAMU guard went to the line and hit all three free throws and the Hatters dropped their third straight game, 63-60.
Graham led Stetson with 14 points, Harney added 12, and Smith finished with 11 points in the defeat. Smith added three assists and three steals, while Pegg led the Hatters with six boards.
Adams led the Rattlers with 23 points. Lewis added 14 points in the win.
Stetson will continue its eight-game road trip to start the year with a contest at Florida International on Monday. The Hatters and the Panthers are scheduled to tip off at 7:00 p.m. in Miami.