DeLand, Fla. – The Stetson men’s basketball team took advantage of Garfield Blair’s 21 points, and Tim Lang’s career-high 11 rebounds to hang on for a 66-54 win over Kennesaw State Thursday night in the Edmunds Center. The victory was the third in a row and the third in conference play for the Hatters. The win also extended the Hatters perfect home record to 4-0 on the season. Stetson is now 7-10 overall and 3-1 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. Kennesaw dropped to 3-14 overall, 1-3 in conference.
Stetson led by as many as 25 points with 13:13 remaining in the second half yet had to hold off some fierce full-court pressure by the Owls. KSU was able to reduce the margin to nine points with 51 seconds remaining yet that was as close as it would come.
In the first half Stetson held the Owls to 14 points and narrowly missed the team record of 13 points allowed in a half against Samford on February 3, 1994. The Hatters went into the locker room leading 26-14.
At the other end of the break Stetson came out on fire and outscored KSU 18-7 in the first six minutes to boost its advantage to 25. It was a run that included a pair of layups by Lang (Victoria, Australia) and four 3-pointers; two by A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.), one by Blair (Orlando, Fla.) and one by Kris Thomas (Litonia, Ga.).
Blair has now scored 20+ points in six of the last seven games. It is a streak that includes a career-high 32 point game last week at North Florida. The one game he didn’t reach the 20 point plateau, he scored 17 points and pulled down 13 rebounds for the team’s first double-double of the season. In fact, the last player to perform the feat was Blair who did it last season against Kennesaw State. Coming into tonight’s game Blair was 7th in the Atlantic Sun in scoring with 15.6 points per game and 10th in rebounding with 6.2 per game. Tonight’s totals of 21 points and seven rebounds have increased his season averages to 15.9 and 6.2 respectively.
Lang’s career-high 11 rebounds surpassed his previous high of 10 rebounds last season against Savannah State. Also scoring in double-figures was A.J. Smith who accomplished it for the 7th time this season. Tonight he hit for 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Thomas added 10 points of his own.
Stetson will take its 3-1 A-Sun record back into the Edmunds Center on Saturday to host Mercer University. Monday the Hatters will face Longwood University at home and attempt to avenge its 78-76 loss just prior to the new year in Farmville, Virginia.