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ETSU Outslugs Hatters in A-Sun Quarterfinals
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  03/05/2009
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A.J. Smith tallied 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the...
by: Stetson University
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Nashville, Tenn. The seventh-seeded Stetson Hatters (13-17) hung with an extremely athletic second-seeded ETSU (21-10) team for as long as they could in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament quarterfinals Wednesday night at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena but ultimately fell 90-76 to the Buccaneers.  Junior point guard A.J. Smith (Cocoa, Fla.) nearly recorded the first triple-double in Stetson history, finishing with 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in a valiant effort.  The rebound and assist figures were one shy of his career high.

 

Down by four at halftime, senior center Tim Lang (Victoria, Australia) hit a quick three-pointer to cut the deficit to one right out of the locker room, but ETSU burst out from there to a 56-40 advantage, a 19-4 run in total.  Stetson responded with an 8-0 run of its own to keep the game competitive.

 

Stetson fought all the way back to within three points when ETSU senior forward and First Team All-Atlantic Sun selection Kevin Tiggs went back to work for the Bucs.  Tiggs, who had 20 points in the first half, went on a personal 7-0 run to extend his team’s lead back to 10 points with approximately five minutes to go.  That run, coupled with a Mike Smith three-pointer with four minutes to go, was just too much for the Hatters to overcome.

 

Senior guard/forward Garfield Blair (Orlando, Fla.) fouled out of his final career game with 3:40 remaining, finishing with 10 points, two rebounds and two assists.  His illustrious career concludes with 1,582 points; Blair is the fourth leading scorer and 11th leading rebounder (676) in Stetson program history.

 

Smith led four Hatters, including Blair, in double figures.  Lang concluded his career with a gritty 18-point, 12-rebound double-double while junior guard Mark Lohuis (Vero Beach, Fla.) contributed 11 points and five rebounds.

 

Tiggs was the unquestioned MVP of the game, pouring in 37 points on 15-23 shooting.  Mike Smith put up a 19-point, 11-rebound double-double, Courtney Pigram scored 15 points and Tommy Hubbard collected 10 rebounds for the Bucs, who advance to Friday’s semifinals to face either three-time defending conference champions Belmont (the #3 seed) or sixth-seeded Campbell.

 

The Hatters shook off an early slow start to hang with the Bucs throughout the first half, although they never took the lead.  Tiggs was nearly unstoppable for ETSU in the first 20 minutes, scoring 20 points on nine of 13 shooting, consistently hitting mid-range jumpers and layups over whichever Stetson player attempted to guard him.

 

Three-point shooting kept Stetson in the game in the first half; the Hatters buried six of 13 attempts from long distance, led by Lohuis, who hit three of four trifectas to lead Stetson with 11 points before halftime.  He grabbed five rebounds in the process to tie for the team lead with Smith, who scored eight points of his own.  The Hatters were down by just four at the half despite the struggles of star senior guard Garfield Blair (Orlando, Fla.), who went 0-9 from the floor and finished the first period with just two points.

 

In addition to Blair and Lang, the Hatters graduate seniors Eric Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Kris Thomas (Lithonia, Ga.) Diaz was out tonight with a broken nose while Thomas missed the game with a knee injury he suffered last Friday night at Campbell.  A.J. Smith leads the cast of returnees in 2009-10.



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