FORT MYERS, Fla. – Led by seven players in double figures, the Stetson women’s basketball team advanced to its fourth straight Atlantic Sun Conference Championship final with a 90-60 victory over USC Upstate in the semifinals on Saturday.
Senior Sasha Sims was one of the seven scoring in double figures, totaling 10 for the game. With her final bucket, she became Stetson’s all-time scoring leader with 1,572 points in her four seasons with the Hatters.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Stetson head coach Lynn Bria of Sims’ accomplishment. “She’s done such a great job and it’s amazing what she’s done. She’s a good kid. She’s a good kid to coach, and she’s a great team player. She probably could have gotten [the record] a long time ago if she were more selfish.”
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” Sims said following the game. “I’m humbled. Our main goal, though, is to win a championship. Unless we do that the other accomplishments don’t mean anything. I just want to get my third ring and be able to credit it to my teammates and our coaching staff.”
After Stetson (26-6) started hot with a 13-4 run, the Spartans (17-14) countered with 12 straight points to take a 16-13 lead over the Hatters just over seven and a half minutes into the contest. Unlike in the quarterfinal match-up with Kennesaw State, however, Stetson didn’t let USC Upstate hang around any longer than that.
The Hatters used a 14-0 run over the next 3:14 to regain the advantage at 27-16, and then extended it to 42-20 with a 29-4 stretch that ultimately put the game out of reach at 42-20 with 3:45 remaining in the first half.
“Overall I thought we played a pretty good game,” Bria said. “In the first half there we turned them over and got a bit of separation. We’re fortunate to get a win and I’m just glad that we’re in this position.”
Stetson, which leads the A-Sun with 12.5 steals per game, used 12 steals in the first half alone to push past the Spartans. Upstate turned the ball over 15 times in the first 20 minutes, and thanks to the Hatters’ ability to maintain possession off those turnovers, Stetson turned the Spartans’ miscues into 17 points in period one.
Following a 49-23 lead at the break, Stetson continued to extend its advantage, leading by as many as 32 points early in the second half. Junior Cherisse Burris knocked down a three off an assist from Sims to make it 61-29 with 15:27 to play.
The Spartans never got closer than 24 points the rest of the way, as Stetson cruised to the 90-60 victory. “We didn’t take them lightly, which I think is a credit to our players,” said Bria.
Junior Jama Sharp led the balanced attack for the Hatters, scoring 17 on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. She added four assists and four of Stetson’s season-best 18 steals in the victory.
Freshman Amber Porter scored 14, while Burris finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. Junior C.J. Coddington and freshman Brianti Saunders scored 11 points each with the former adding another four steals for the Hatters.
Junior Myeisha Hall and Sims chipped in with 10 points each. Hall added a game high nine rebounds off the bench, while Sims finished with eight boards and five assists for the Hatters.
Stetson advances to take on Florida Gulf Coast in the A-Sun Championship game on Sunday. The Hatters and the Eagles will square off at 3:00 p.m. with coverage on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, Bright House Sports Network, and the Hatters Radio Network.