After seeing a 13-point second half lead shrink to just two, Stetson went on a late 19-4 run to capture a 79-66 Atlantic Sun Conference victory over USC Upstate Thursday night at the Hodge Center.
Jama Sharp registered 19 points, seven steals, five assists, and five rebounds as Stetson (17-5, 9-1 A-Sun) won its ninth game in a row and secured a spot in the 2014 Atlantic Sun Conference tournament.
"USC Upstate is hard to play here, and we had to work for everything we got,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “I thought our effort was better in the second half. In the first half we were kind of sluggish. To Upstate’s credit they were playing well. Defensively we were just giving them too many easy baskets. In the second half we played with a lot more energy.”
Amber Porter recorded a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds and added five rejections to set a new Stetson single-season record for blocks. She has now blocked 76 shots on the season, surpassing Sarah Foley’s 1989-90 total of 72.
Myeisha Hall scored 14 points off the bench and Cherisse Burris added 12 points for the Hatters, who swept the season series from USC Upstate (11-10, 6-4).
Stetson extended a 41-33 halftime lead to 60-47 midway through the second half. However, the Spartans rallied with a 11-0 run to pull within 60-58 at the 6:51 mark, forcing the Hatters to call a 30-second timeout.
“Sometimes you just have to play through (the other team’s) runs,” Bria said. “I was proud of our players because we could have folded. Upstate had all the momentum. We came out an executed after that timeout. We got a stop after that, and Jama hit a big three to give us a bit of a cushion. So I was really proud of our team for playing through that.”
Sharp did indeed knock down a three-pointer from the left wing after helping force a Spartan turnover on the defensive end. She also converted a three-point play on the next possession, and Sims added a trifecta to build Stetson's lead back to 11. C.J. Coddington scored four points down the stretch to help preserve the victory.
Stetson shot 46% for the game and outrebounded USC Upstate 42-38. The Hatters also collected 19 assists and 16 steals.
Raven Jefferson scored 14 points to lead USC Upstate.
The Hatters will go for their 10th straight win Saturday at ETSU.
Notes: Stetson is 17-5 for the second time time since 2000-01 (also 2011-12) ... The Hatters lead all Florida schools with 17 victories ... Jama Sharp returned from a bloody nose in the first half to score 14 points in the second half ... Sharp has 15 steals in her last two trips to the Hodge Center (eight last year) ... Stetson's longest winning streak in school history is 11 games, set last season.