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Blair's Career Day Rallies Hatters to Overtime Win Over UNF
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  01/05/2008
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Garfield Blair's career-high 32 points included the game-winning...
by: Stetson University
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Jacksonville, Fla. Junior guard Garfield Blair (Orlando, Fla.) scored a career-high 32 points, including the game-winning basket with 6.6 seconds remaining in overtime, to drive the Stetson men’s basketball team (5-10, 1-1 A-Sun) to a 71-69 victory over conference rival North Florida (1-13, 0-2 A-Sun).  Stetson was down by as many as 13 points in the second half.


The game was tied in the extra session well into the final minute.  UNF’s James Grimball had a chance to give his team the lead with 1:05 left but he missed two free throws; on the other end junior center Tim Lang (Victoria, Australia) rebounded an Eric Diaz (Miami, Fla.) miss to give Stetson a chance in the final 30 seconds. 


Following a timeout called by acting head coach Wylie Tucker, Stetson handed off the ball around mid-court for most of the shot clock until it was time for Blair to drive the lane for the basket that gave Stetson the lead, 71-69, with 6.6 seconds remaining.  The fadeaway jumper by Tom Hammonds as the clock died would not fall and the Hatters claimed their first A-Sun victory of the 2007-08 campaign.


At the end of regulation, Blair sank two free throws with 1:33 remaining that cut the North Florida lead to two points, 58-56.  On the other end, Diaz stole a lob pass to give Stetson a chance to tie, but Sheldon Oliver’s (Orlando, Fla.) layup attempt was swatted away by Grimball with 50 seconds left.  The Hatters were not able to get the ball with a chance to tie again until the final seconds.  Blair hit a three-pointer with five seconds left to make it a one-point game; Tom Hammonds made one of two free throws with just four seconds left.


The speed of sophomore guard A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.) was the factor that put the Hatters into overtime.  Smith took the inbounds pass and glided the length of the court through the Osprey defense, dropping the ball off the glass and through the basket as the horn sounded to force Stetson’s second consecutive overtime conference game.


Blair added nine rebounds (a season-high) to go along with his career-best scoring total.  Smith finished with 14 points, 12 of them after halftime, and a game-high three steals while Lang added a season-high 14 points.


Hammonds had 21 points and six rebounds for the Ospreys (1-13, 0-2 A-Sun) while Grimball tallied 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.  Stan Januska contributed 11 points; he was UNF’s leading scorer at halftime but got just four points thereafter.


Down eight at the half, Stetson gave up two quick baskets that allowed the Ospreys to take a 34-22 lead less than a minute into the second period.  North Florida would hold the Hatters at arm’s length for the next eight minutes until Smith finally brought Stetson back within single digits at 47-39 with 12 minutes left.  The Hatters continued to chip away, cutting the deficit to five points on a Smith drive with just under nine minutes remaining.


North Florida re-gained its footing with a Grimball dunk and Hammonds 15-footer to go up 53-44 as the game headed into the final seven minutes.  The Hatters would fight back again, playing solid defense and on the other end scoring six straight points to make it a two-point game at 53-51 with just over four minutes to play.


Diaz tied the game 53-all with 3:30 to go when he put back a Blair miss, but two Cortez Riley free throws on the other end put North Florida back ahead by two.  Smith had a chance to tie the game but missed the second of two free throws.  That proved to be extremely costly for the Hatters when Grimball sank a turnaround jumper on the other end while getting fouled; the ensuing free throw pushed the Osprey lead to 58-54 with 1:53 left.


The two teams traded baskets for the first five minutes with UNF taking a 9-8 advantage into the first media timeout.  The Ospreys hit three of their first four three-point attempts to stay with Stetson.  Neither team got much offense going the next few minutes as the game was tied 12-12 with 11:53 remaining in the first half.


A 6-0 run by UNF combined with a six-minute Stetson scoring drought put the Hatters in a hole just past the midway point of the half from which they would not escape before intermission.  Blair and Lang co-led Stetson with eight points apiece.  Januska led a balanced Osprey attack with seven points.  North Florida out-rebounded Stetson 20-11 in the first half.


Stetson Head Coach Derek Waugh was ejected approximately four minutes into the second half after receiving his second technical foul for arguing a traveling call against Smith.  Tucker served as acting head coach the rest of the game.


The Hatters return to action Friday, January 11 when they visit A-Sun foe Florida Gulf Coast at Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla.  The game, which will be FGCU’s first conference home game as a Division I member, will tip off at 7 p.m. and be televised by Comcast Sports South.

Stetson Men's Basketball