|Belmont Eliminates Stetson in Atlantic Sun Semifinals, 72-59|
Belmont Eliminates Stetson in Atlantic Sun Semifinals, 72-59
Johnson City, Tenn. ' Stetson's fairy tale season came to an end Friday night as no. 2 seed Belmont eliminated the sixth-seeded Hatters 72-59 in the Atlantic Sun Conference semifinals at ETSU's Memorial Center in Johnson City, Tenn.
Boomer Herndon and Josh Goodwin each scored 15 points to lead the Bruins (19-10), who advance to play top-seed Lipscomb for the A-Sun championship at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
After starting the year 0-10 and 2-16, Stetson had won nine straight and 12 of their last 13 games.? But the Bruins remained the one conference team the Hatters could not get past and Stetson's dramatic turn-around season ended with a 14-18 record.
'The one bad thing about college basketball is that just about everyone ends their season and their career on a loss,' Hatters head coach Derek Waugh said.? 'We didn't play well tonight, but a lot of that is because of Belmont.? They took us out of our rhythm similar to what we did to FAU last night.'
Belmont has now won five straight games and 11 of their last 12 overall.? The Bruins swept all three games from the Hatters this season and are the only team to defeat Stetson since Jan. 28.
'They have had our number this year and ultimately they were they better team,' Waugh said.
A tightly contested first half featured three early lead changes before Belmont jumped out to a 17-12 advantage.? The Hatters closed the gap to a single point twice but failed to generate any offense over the final four-and-a-half minutes of the period.? Justin Hare hit a 10-foot jumper in the closing seconds as the Bruins enjoyed a 30-24 halftime lead.
Belmont pushed the lead to eight early in the second half, but the Hatters cut the lead to back to one following a three-pointer and a lay-up by Anthony Register.? But Herndon proved too tough for the Hatters once again, and the play of the Bruins' 6-11 center helped Belmont pull away midway through the second half.? Herndon scored 54 points in three games against the Hatters this season.
'Defensively we did a fantastic job, holding them to 43 percent shooting,' Waugh said.? 'But we didn't force a lot of turnovers and we didn't get many easy baskets.'
Karl Hollingsworth single-handedly kept the score close in the second half.? The Hatter senior finished with a career-high 24 points, including 18 in the second half.
'That was one of the best efforts in a Stetson uniform that I have seen in my nine years here,' Waugh said.
The loss ended the brilliant four-year careers of senior teammates E.J. Gordon and Anthony Register.? Gordon scored 15 points Friday and finished his career with 1691 points, the second-most in school history and 10th-highest total in A-Sun history.? Register netted 11 points and finished his career with 1414 points, the ninth-highest total in school history.
'We all feel good about what we did, but we are upset it ended so early,' Gordon said.? 'Once the hurt goes away we will definitely appreciate what we did.'
'I am really proud of everyone and they will remember the special things they did this year,' Waugh said.? 'It is a team I will never forget.'
In Friday's other semifinal game, Lipscomb defeated Gardner-Webb 70-51 to advance to their first conference championship game.
Notes: Stetson played its 32nd game tonight, tying the school single-season record ... Gordon also finished his illustrious Hatters career among the school record holders in rebounds, assists, steals (1st), blocks, field goals made, free throws made, and games played.? Register ranked among the school leaders in steals, three-point field goals, free throws made, and games played ... Belmont is also making its first conference finals appearance.
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