In a game that had more in common with finger painting than fine art, the Hatters gutted out a 63-60 overtime victory over
Garfield Blair’s 15 points led the Hatters, who improved to 3-5 in the A-Sun and 7-12 overall. James Grimball put in 18 to top the Ospreys, who dropped to 0-6 and 2-15.
In the overtime period, UNF missed three of four early free throws and the Hatters built a 54-51 lead, with all four points coming from Blair. McMillen later drained his key three – as he did last year in overtime at UNF – to make it 57-53. The Hatters hit eight of 12 free throws down the stretch and UNF’s Aaron Caruthers missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have tied it.
It was a tightly played game throughout. In the first half neither team could hold the lead for long as they stayed within four points of each other leading into halftime. Stetson freshman Brandon Williams came off the bench to hit two three-pointers, his first points since January 7. The second of these put Stetson on top 18-15 with 6:19 to go in the first half.
“The thing I am most proud of with
UNF’s James Grimbal scored the first two baskets out of halftime on the way to his game-high points total. That forced a Stetson timeout and the Hatters recovery came soon thereafter. With 14:07 remaining, Tim Lang blocked a Grimbal jumper to cause a UNF shot clock violation. Moments later another three from Williams gave Stetson their first lead since the 4:06 mark of the first half, 32-31.
Key baskets from freshmen Shelden Oliver and A.J. Smith put Stetson ahead 38-35 with 9:20 to play. The defense also stepped up during that stretch, holding UNF without a field goal for six and one-half minutes. However, the Hatters could never pull ahead by more than four points and the Ospreys eventually regained the lead on Grimball’s dunk with 4:26 to go.
“I just give UNF a ton of credit for being well-prepared and for playing well,” said Waugh. “They took us out of any transition baskets and did a great job of keeping us off-balance.
Thomas tied the score at 44 on a three-pointer with 2:23 left. UNF point guard Chris Timerberlake then hit two free throws and a breakaway layup to give the Ospreys a 4-point advantage with 1:42 to go. Then Blair, who had battled foul trouble during a mostly quiet first 35 minutes for Stetson, hit two free throws of his own and tied it on a lay-up with 55 seconds on the clock.
Timberlake chewed the shot clock, then missed a three-pointer that Blair rebounded for Stetson. Following the team’s final timeout, the Hatters had a chance to play for the final shot. Thomas came open in the corner for a three and though he missed the jumper, he was fouled with five seconds remaining. The Hatters had uncharacteristically struggled from the line, but Thomas nailed the first. After missing the second, UNF called a timeout before the Stetson guard sunk the third. Timberlake then raced down the court and tied it at 50 on a lay-up to force overtime.
Eric Diaz returned to the lineup for Stetson after missing the last four games with a broken nose. In limited action, he hit 1-of-2 free throws and grabbed a key rebound in the final minute of overtime.
The Hatters return to the road Saturday night for a 6:00 PM tip-off at