The Stetson men’s basketball team outscored Jacksonville 41-24 in the first half en route to a 73-68 home victory over the visiting Dolphins at the Edmunds Center Saturday. Senior Raymone Andrews led the Hatters with 19 points and six assists, while redshirt-freshman Brian Pegg recorded his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
“It was a good game for us today, a good win,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said following the victory. “These guys did a wonderful job. Somehow we built the big lead, and then in the second half we let the lead disappear. That’s something we need to work on as a team.”
Stetson played arguably its best half of the season in racing out to a 17-point lead at the break. The Hatters shot 55.6 percent from the floor and held the Dolphins to just 37.5 percent shooting, as Stetson produced much of its offense in transition and by working the ball inside against Jacksonville’s zone.
Andrews pushed the pace early and often while running the point, finishing the first 20 minutes with 11 points on 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. It was the guards that found Pegg and company on the inside for post buckets, but the big men were finishing well on Saturday for the Hatters.
With leading scorer Willie Green sitting all but 1:37 of the first half on the bench with two early fouls, it was Pegg and junior Kyle Sikora who picked up the slack in the paint. Pegg scored 10, grabbed eight rebounds, and had three assists in the first. Two of those dimes were finished off by Sikora dunks. The seven-footer scored four points, had seven rebounds, and blocked one shot in the first half to help Stetson increase its lead throughout the period.
Stetson opened the second half going right to Green, and the big man delivered, scoring the first five points of the frame to extend the Hatters’ lead to 22 points, at 46-24. The advantage grew as large as 24 points when junior Kentwan Smith and Sikora finished off back-to-back dunks, the former completing a three-point play on the slam.
The end of the Hatter run coincided with Green’s second foul in the first 1:35 of the second half, forcing the senior forward to the bench once again.
Jacksonville climbed back into the game thanks to a 21-4 run over the next 10 minutes of action to cut Stetson’s lead to just seven points. The Hatters were up just 55-48 with 8:09 on the clock when RJ Slawson tipped in his own missed shot.
Green came back into the game with 8:52 on the clock and managed to not foul out for the remainder of the contest. A basket by Green and an alley oop from senior Hunter Miller to Smith behind the Jacksonville zone put the Hatters back up by 11, but the Dolphins weren’t done yet.
JU cut the Stetson advantage to just three points, at 65-62, with 2:45 to play when J.R. Holder converted two free throws to conclude a late 9-2 run.
“Part of the lead went [away] when our guys got in foul trouble,” Williams said. “But we did a poor job of containing dribblers. We built that lead and they got back into the game by driving to the basket. That’s something we need to work on and address.”
The Hatters hung tough, scoring on just free throws the rest of the way out. Green, Pegg, and Andrews combined to go 8-for-10 from the stripe in the final 2:21 to seal the 73-68 victory for Stetson.
Andrews led the way with 19 points and six assists, his ninth time this season recording five or more helpers. Pegg played all but the final 11 seconds of the game, finishing with 14 points, 14 boards, three assists, and going a perfect 6-for-6 from the line.
“He’s the guy who gets in the gym and really works on improving his free throws,” Williams said of Pegg, who was shooting only 50.7 percent from the line before Saturday. “It’s awfully good to see him have a game where he didn’t miss any.”
Green ended up with 13 points in just 13 minutes of action while battling foul trouble. Smith chipped in with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, and Sikora finished with six points on three dunks and a career high eight rebounds.
Holder led the Dolphins with 18 points off the bench, while Slawson totaled 11 points and 12 boards in the defeat.
Stetson will continue conference play next weekend with a road trip to USC Upstate and ETSU. The Hatters take on the Spartans Thursday and will challenge the Bucs on Saturday.