The Stetson men’s basketball team won its third straight game and earned its first road victory of the season as the Hatters topped Kennesaw State 68-65 at the KSU Convocation Center Thursday night.
Stetson improved to 6-14 on the season, winning three in a row for the first time all year, and the Hatters moved to an even 4-4 in Atlantic Sun Conference play with the victory over the Owls.
“It’s a good feeling to win a road game,” Stetson head coach Corey Williams said after the game. “We came into a hostile environment, and Kennesaw took it up a notch, but our guys sustained the effort and we scored enough points to win the basketball game.”
Jumping out to a 7-1 lead, it was obvious Stetson was hungry for the road win early on. A 9-0 run ignited by a three-pointer from senior Raymone Andrews, and capped off by four straight free throws from senior Willie Green and Andrews, extended the Hatters’ advantage to 12 points at 21-9, their largest of the night.
A layup by junior Kentwan Smith to end the half gave Stetson a 36-26 advantage at the break, the Hatters’ first lead at halftime during conference play. Green was explosive during the first 20 minutes of action, leading the way with 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 5-of-6 from the line.
“We were excited to play,” Williams said of the start of the game. “We executed pretty decently, we understood the game plan, and we knew we were in for a fight. In the first half our guys understood that. In the second our guys let their guards down.”
The Owls, prepared to defend their home court, buckled down on defense and came out firing in the second half. Kennesaw State started the frame scoring the first eight points to cut the Hatters’ lead to just two points, and the two teams remained tight the rest of the way.
Although the Owls cut the Stetson advantage to just one point on four separate occasions, Stetson maintained the lead throughout, fighting Kennesaw off with every possession.
In crunch time the Hatters went back to Green, who knocked down a turn-around jumper in the lane to make it 64-59 with 2:31 to play. Back-to-back buckets by the Owls brought them right back into it, but four straight free throws by Andrews down the stretch allowed Stetson to hang on for the gritty 68-65 win on the road.
Green finished with 24 points to lead the Hatters, scoring 20 or more points for the fifth time this season. Smith and redshirt-freshman Brian Pegg added 13 points each, while Andrews finished with 10 points in the victory.
Kennesaw State shot 64.0 percent from the floor in the second half to get back into the game. Delbert Love and Orlando Coleman led the way tallying 13 points apiece for the Owls.
Stetson will look for its fourth straight win when the Hatters take on league-leading Mercer Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in Macon, Ga.