Savannah, Ga. - For the second consecutive game Stetson (6-13) could not hold on to a one-point lead and fell victim to an opponents' basket in the final seconds. Savannah State (3-17) defeated the Hatters by a score of 50-49. Ridge Graham (Stuart, Fla.) was the top scorer for Stetson with 11 points, while SSU's Cedric Smith led all scorers with 13.
After Stetson missed the front end of a 1-and-1with 15 seconds remaining and a one point lead, the Tigers drove the length of the floor as the clock wound down. Jovonni Shuler, the Tigers top offensive threat tossed up an off-balance shot that went off the backboard and in for the game-winner. Corey Walden (Ormond Beach, Fla.) was able to launch a long-range desperation shot at the buzzer that fell short.
"It is a tough way to lose one", said Stetson head coach Derek Waugh. "We had our chances tonight but just couldn't get it done. At the end of the day we had too many turnovers compared to our assists."
"I have to give Savannah State a lot of credit they played well", added Waugh.
Stetson came out and played solid defense in a low-scoring first half. After Shuler tied the game at ten with 11:38 remaining, the Hatters went on an 11-2 run over the next five and a half minutes. When Jermol Paul (West Palm Beach, Fla.) sunk a pair of free throws at 6:07 Stetson held the largest advantage either team would enjoy all night at nine points (21-12). The Tigers roared back with a 14-4 run of its own and went into the break with a 26-25 lead.
The second half was tight at both ends of the court. The lead changed hands eight times and four times the score was tied. Stetson's largest advantage was six points (42-36) after a Walden layup at 9:08. Savannah State led by as many as four points early on at 29-25.
As a team Stetson shot 40.9 pct. (18-for-44) from the field, 33.3 pct. (2-of-6) from long range and 64.7 pct. (11-for-17) from the line. The Hatters outscored the Tigers 28-24 in the paint yet were out-rebounded 32-25. Graham was the only Hatter in double-figures. Steve Forbes (Clermont, Fla.) was next with eight points and a team-high six rebounds.
The teams split the season series as Stetson defeated Savannah State 69-64 on November 30 in Deland.
Next up the Hatters will travel to Buies Creek, North Carolina to play Campbell on Saturday, January 22 at 7:00 p.m. Stetson fans can catch the game on A-Sun TV by logging on to Hatter Vision at GoHatters.com Also be sure to follow the Hatters on Twitter at @StetsonSID, on Facebook at Stetson Athletics, and check out the Stetson Hatters channel onYouTube.