Coral Gables, Fla. -- Following a nine day layoff, the Stetson Hatters were predictably rusty in the early moments of Saturday's game at Miami. The Hatters eventually found their stroke, but ended up on the wrong end of a 89-64 score.
It took Stetson nearly seven minutes to hit a field goal. A jumper from Eric Diaz at the 13:02 mark broke the ice and brought the Hatters to within 16-5. Eight different Hatters would end up scoring in the first half, though only Garfield Blair hit more than one field goal. Stetson made some progress before halftime but went into the break down, 39-28.
Eric Diaz, playing in his hometown, tried to ignite a second-half comeback with three quick treys. The sophomore entered the game in the top 10 in the A-Sun in both 3-point field goal percentage and 3-point field goals made per game. Diaz finished with 11 points to lead the team.
Another hometown boy, Brandon Williams, converted on an old-fashioned three-point play with 11:20 remaining to bring Stetson within 57-44. That was the closest the Hatters would get the rest of the way. Williams, a freshman, ended with eight points.
Miami's Raymond Hicks scored eight straight points in the second half and helped key a 14-0 run that allowed the Hurricanes pull away. Top scorer Jack McClinton also came up big after the break. Stetson held the 20.5 ppg-scorer to two points in the first half, but the sophomore guard ended up with 13. Brian Asbury had 18 to pace the Hurricanes.
The Hatters will play nationally-ranked Florida in Gainesville on Wednesday. It will be the first time in school history the Hatters have faced a defending national champion.