Winston-Salem, N.C. - The Stetson men's basketball team opened the season with an impressive 89-79 road win over Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. It is the first Stetson win over an ACC opponent since February 10, 1982 when the Hatters defeated Duke 88-81 at home and January 5, 1974 when they beat Virginia 78-76 in Winter Park, Florida. It is also the first win for an Atlantic Sun Conference team against the ACC since College of Charleston beat Maryland in the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore Ridge Graham (Stuart, Fla.) led the Hatters with 21 points and 12 rebounds. It is the second consecutive season he has opened with a double-double. He was 7-for-20 from the field, 1-for-1 from 3-point range, and 6-of-8 from the line. Tyshawn Patterson (Orlando, Fla.) and Joel Naburgs (Victoria, Australia) also hit double figures, as well as career-highs with 20 and 16 points respectively. Freshman Aaron Graham (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was the fourth Hatter in double figures tallying 11 points in his first career game at the collegiate level. Wake's J.T. Terrell (Burlington, N.C.) led all scorers with 26 points.
"They [Tyshawn and Ridge] are just sophomores. I think they have grown up a lot since their freshman year. They were both fantastic tonight", said Waugh.
Stetson opened the game with a 9-2 run, led by three at the half (36-33), and never trailed in the second half on its way to the biggest win in the Derek Waugh era.
The Hatters played well from the opening tip and held on to a lead until 11:52 of the first half when Terrell swished a 3-pointer to give the Demon Deacons a one-point lead. The teams played even until 5:30 remained and C.J. Harris (Winston-Salem, N.C.) hit a layup and sparked a 7-0 run that put the home team up by seven. For the remainder of the half, however, Stetson outscored Wake Forest by a 12-2 margin that included a pair of jumpers and a free throw by junior Jermol Paul (West Palm Beach, Fla.). Paul's second field goal and one put the Hatters up to stay. Joel Naburgs led the Hatters in scoring at the half with seven points and also in rebounds also with seven.
Stetson shot 46.4% (32-of-69) from the field, 76.9% (20-26) from the line, and outrebounded the taller Demon Deacons 45-32. The rebounding advantage led to 19 second chance points as well as 16 off the fast break. Thirty-eight of Stetson's 89 points came in the paint. The 89 points was the most for the Hatters in a win since putting up 91 in overtime against Florida Atlantic in January of 2004.
With 12:26 remaining in the game Deacon head coach Jeff Bzdelik called timeout with his team down by 11 points at 57-46 and the home crowd eerily quiet. There was nothing he could say to get his team to slow down the Hatters. Stetson proceeded to go on an 18-10 run, extended their lead to a game-high 19 points with 4:19 on the clock, and hold on for the 10-point victory.
"I think we were able to keep Wake out of rhythm which led them to take shots they were not used to taking", said Waugh. "In a game like this if you can keep it close you put the pressure on them."
Next up the Hatters will return to Central Florida to take on Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach on November 16 at 7:00 p.m. Catch the game on Hatter Vision audio with 17-year veterans Murray Miller and Harry Arnold calling the action. Also be sure to follow the Hatters on Twitter at @StetsonSID (twitter.com/stetsonsid), "like" Stetson Athletics on Facebook and check out the official YouTube channel at youtube.com/stetsonhatters.