|Hatters Defeat Ospreys on the Road|
Liam McInerney scored a career-high nine points against the Ospreys.
Courtesy: Jim Hogue Photos
Jacksonville, Fla. - Senior A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.) scored 19 points and redshirt freshman Ridge Graham (Stuart, Fla.) added 13 and a game-high nine rebounds to lead Stetson (6-18, 4-12) to a 71-60 win over host North Florida (11-14, 6-9) Thursday night in Jacksonville. A win by the Ospreys would have secured them a spot and eliminated the Hatters from the upcoming Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Macon, Georgia.
Freshman Liam McInerney (Victoria, Australia) added a career-high nine points and equaled his career-high with seven rebounds. He was impressive inside shooting 4-for-5 from the field. Fellow freshman Aussie Joel Naburgs (Victoria, Australia) hit double-figures for the 4th consecutive game with 11 points. All eight Hatters that took the floor scored at least two points in the game. Matt Sauey (Ocala, Fla.) was UNF's top gun with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Stetson shot 46.9% (23-for-49) from the field, 40.0% (8-of-20) from outside the arc, and 68.0% (17-for-25) from the line.
"When we shoot the ball well we generally win", said Stetson head coach Derek Waugh. "The three keys were that we out rebounded them, we shot close to 50%, and we kept them under 40%. Before the game I said if we do those three things we would win. We did and we won by 11."
Stetson came out of the gate on fire tonight shooting 48.3% (14-of-29) from the field and knocking down eight long balls (8-for-16) for 36 points. It was the Hatters' second highest scoring total for a first half this season (46 against Averett).
After UNF went up 4-0 to start the game Stetson went on a 22-4 run to open up a 14 point lead. With 1:03 remaining Smith buried a three-pointer to give the Hatters its largest lead of the game at 36-21. The Ospreys finished the half with a layup and a 3-pointer to narrow the lead to 10 points heading into the locker room.
"I thought our passing was fantastic tonight. We looked for the open pass, we looked for the open man", said Waugh. "I am really proud of the guys."
UNF tried everything it could to get back into the game in the second half, yet Stetson repelled every attack. At 7:09 the Ospreys drew to within four points after a crowd-pleasing Stan Januska (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) 3-pointer. The fans were quieted however after Naburgs dropped a pair of free throws and Smith added a layup to push the lead back to 57-49 with 3:56 remaining.
Coming down the stretch Stetson survived UNF's attempt to slow down the clock by fouling and calling timeouts following baskets. After starting the game 1-for-7 from the line the Hatters buried 16-of-18 when it counted most.
Stetson's centers Graeme Radford (Victoria, Australia) and McInerney each delivered a pair of blocked shots.
"With the losses that we have had the guys had every excuse not to show up for this one but I think they came out and played as well as they have all year. I am really proud of the guys, we really came together tonight", added Waugh.
Next up the Hatters will return to Jacksonville on Saturday to take on the JU Dolphins at 3:15 p.m. Stetson fans can make the short drive up I-95 see the Hatters live, or check out the game on A-Sun TV found at www.atlanticsun.org.