DeLand, Fla. - Three Hatters scored in double-figures led by freshman Corey Walden's (Ormond Beach, Fla.) 14 yet it wasn't enough as Stetson (4-10, 2-2) fell 70-53 to Belmont (12-3, 4-0) Wednesday night in the Edmunds Center. Fellow freshman Steve Forbes (Clermont, Fla.) added a career-high 12 points hitting 5-of-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from the line. Stetson's leading scorer sophomore Ridge Graham (Stuart, Fla.) tallied 13. Luis Jacobo (Sanford, Fla.) led all rebounders in the game with a career-high eight boards.
"Belmont is playing, at our level, as good as anyone in the country. They are ranked 15th in the mid major polls and I think they should be a lot higher", said Stetson head coach Derek Waugh. "I think we kept at 'em all night though, which is a good sign."
The young Hatters came out in the first half ready to play aggressive basketball against the favored and more seasoned Bruins. The lead changed hands four times in the early going and Stetson was within three points (11-14) with 11:57 on the clock. As the half progressed experience trumped enthusiasm and Belmont built an 11-point lead heading into the locker room.
In the second half Stetson was able to get to within six points early on when Forbes completed a three-point play with a free throw at 18:43, yet that was as close as the Hatters would come.
"I think the key tonight was turnovers. We knew coming in that we were going to have to limit our turnovers to about 11 and pick up about 10 steals from them to win this game."
Stetson ended up turning the ball over 21 times and Belmont scored 29 points off those turnovers. Although the Hatters out rebounded the Bruins 29-27, Belmont won the scoring battle in the paint 36-24. Another glaring statistic was the bench scoring. Belmont spread their scoring out among nine of their 12 players that saw floor time. The Bruin reserves out scored the Hatter subs 44-2. Aaron Graham (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) was the only Stetson player off the bench adding to the score with a 2-for-2 night from the free throw line.
Next up the Hatters will hit the road for a pair of A-Sun games over the weekend. On Saturday, January 8 Stetson will play USC Upstate at 2:00 p.m. in Spartanburg, S.C. and then move on to Johnson City, Tennessee on Monday, January 10 for a 7:00 p.m. game against ETSU. Stetson fans can catch the games on A-Sun TV by logging into Hatter Vision. Also be sure to follow the Hatters on Twitter at @StetsonSID, on Facebook at Stetson Athletics, and check out the Stetson Hatters channel onYouTube.