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Team Effort Leads Stetson to Win at Lipscomb
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  01/05/2009
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Garfield Blair scored 22 points to lead the Hatters over Lipscomb.
by: Stetson University
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Nashville, Tenn. Senior forward Garfield Blair (Orlando, Fla.) scored 22 points, 13 of them in the second half, to lead the Stetson men’s basketball team (6-6, 3-1 Atlantic Sun) to an important conference road win at Lipscomb (6-7, 2-2 A-Sun) Monday night at Allen Arena.  Junior point guard A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.) added 16 points as the Hatters won 76-68.


The Hatters led by as many as 17 and 36-32 at halftime but saw the lead disappear when they could not make a field goal for the first 6:15 of the second half until Smith drained a three from the top of the key to bring Stetson within one.  That was immediately followed by a Tim Lang three that put the Hatters back up 45-43 with 13 minutes left.


The game settled into a physical battle with Stetson getting up by five when Kris Thomas made three free throws after being fouled behind the arc with 9:52 left.  Junior guard Brandon Williams (Miami, Fla.) made back-to-back big plays just before the eight-minute mark when he pumped in a three-pointer to extend the lead to 56-49 and then immediately stole the inbound pass, leading to a Blair bucket and a nine-point advantage.


Lipscomb relentlessly rallied within one point on a Michael Lusk hoop and free throw with 5:03 to go before Stetson re-upped the lead to 64-59 by the final media timeout.  Blair took charge down the stretch, stealing the ball from Bisons center Adnan Hodzic in the paint with 1:17 left and finding senior forward Eric Diaz (Miami, Fla.) for a huge three-pointer from the top of the key that put Stetson ahead by seven with one minute to go and ultimately sealed the victory.


“That was a huge pass that Garfield made and we all had confidence that Eric would hit that shot,” Head Coach Derek Waugh said.  “Winning up here in Nashville in this cold weather, when we’ve had trouble on the road, is huge for our team and is going to be a big confidence-builder for them as we go on.  Now we need to maintain that fire as we go down to play FGCU on Thursday.  In my opinion, this was the best team effort in all my years of coaching at Stetson.”


Blair made eight of 15 field goal attempts to finish just three points shy of his season high.  Blair and Smith each pulled down four rebounds and handed out three assists.  Junior forward Sheldon Oliver (Orlando, Fla.) contributed 10 points.  Senior center Tim Lang (Victoria, Australia) and sophomore forward Olivier Dupiton (Montreal, Quebec) led the team with five boards each.  Dupiton’s total tied his season high and was just two off his career high, also set at Allen Arena against Lipscomb last February 2.


Hodzic paced Lipscomb with 19 points and Brian Wright added 12.  Josh Slater scored nine points and tied for the team lead with Michael Teller at six rebounds apiece.  Slater also handed out six assists.


The game started out just the way Coach Waugh would have drawn it up, with a 10-0 Hatter run in the first three minutes.  Five different players scored during the run, which was keyed by strong defensive pressure and good transition offense.  That momentum sustained the Hatters through much of a low-scoring first 10 minutes.  Stetson led 17-11 halfway through the first period.


The Bisons would rally to within two before Blair scored the first five points of a 15-0 run that restored the Hatter lead to a game-high 17 with just over five minutes to play in the half.  The momentum was short-lived, however, as Lipscomb went on an 8-0 spurt of its own to cut the Stetson bulge to 32-23, forcing Waugh to call a 30-second timeout.  That margin remained relatively constant until the final minute, when Lipscomb finished with a flourish, cutting the halftime margin to four, 36-32.


Smith led all scorers with 11 points in the first half, closely followed by Blair with nine.  Hodzic and Wright had eight each for the Bisons.


Stetson, which split its two-game trip to Nashville, concludes its five-game road trip Thursday at league rival Florida Gulf Coast.  Tip-off from Alico Arena is set for 7:15 p.m. with an A-Sun.TV webcast and Murray Miller Hatter Vision audiocast both available through

Stetson Men's Basketball