In addition to his scoring output and career-high in rebounds, Graham added three steals, an assist, and a blocked shot. Senior guard A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.) was red-hot shooting 3-for-5 from the field, 2-of-2 from long range and 2-for-2 from the line for 10 points before leaving the game late in the first half with a twisted ankle. He returned briefly mid way through the second, yet did not stay on the floor long.
Stetson led for most of the first half and was up by as many as six points after a Graham layup with 4:12 remaining. As the clock ran down UNF eliminated the deficit and ended up in the locker room with a two point advantage in a low scoring 22-20 game. The Hatters shot 42.1% from the field in the opening period, a figure that dropped to 35.4% by games' end. The Ospreys, conversely, were 7-of-20 for 35.0% in the first half, and improved to 45.0%.
The second half opened with a UNF hoop followed by a Graham jumper and a nifty left handed lay in by Stetson's Liam McInerney (Victoria, Australia) to tie the game 24-24. The Ospreys answered with a layup by Andy Diaz (Miami, Fla.) before single free throws by Joel Naburgs (Victoria, Australia) and Tyshawn Patterson (Orlando, Fla.) on successive possessions tied the game for the sixth, and final time at 26-26.
Without Smith in the lineup for Stetson North Florida took advantage and ran its lead up as high as 11 points with 13:06 remaining. Later a pair of free throws by Patterson at 3:24 brought the Hatters to within four points, yet that was as close as the home team would come. The Ospreys finished with an 8-2 run for the 10-point victory.
"They did a great job taking away our #1 option tonight", said Stetson Head Coach Derek Waugh. "I thought we played great in the first half, but we didn't have an answer in the second. This was a must-win game for us and we didn't get it done."
For the Hatters Patterson contributed eight points, while Olivier Dupiton added four on some athletic moves to the hoop, and Mark Lohuis seemed to return to form when he buried a pair of smooth jumpers in the first half. Brad Haugabrook (Newark, N.J.) led the Ospreys with 16 points followed by Jerron Granberry (Miami, Fla.) with 15.
Next up for the Hatters is a road trip to play ETSU Thursday at 7:00 p.m. and Campbell on Saturday at 3:15 p.m. Hatters fans can catch the action by tuning into A-Sun TV which is available at www.atlanticsun.org.