|McGowan Gets Triple-Double, Bria Wins 200th Game|
Macon, Ga. - Junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) exploded for her second triple-double of the season, scoring a career-high 29 points with 10 rebounds and 10 assists to carry the Stetson women's basketball team (13-3, 4-0 Atlantic Sun) to a hard-fought 89-84 victory at longtime rival Mercer (3-12, 1-3 A-Sun) Wednesday evening at the University Center. The win was the 200th of Head Coach Lynn Bria's career and the seventh in a row for the Hatters, tying the program record for longest winning streak.
Tied 35-35 at halftime, Stetson appeared to seize control early in the second half with a quick 5-0 burst out of the locker room that led to the Hatters pushing their lead to a game-high 11 points (57-46) with 12:50 to play. However, Mercer guard Tabitha Bradshaw drilled three-pointers on consecutive possessions to start the Bears on the road back.
Stetson fought off a Mercer rally to go back up by eight on a layup from junior guard Shanasa Sanders (Jacksonville, Fla.) with 1:54 left, but once again the home team would come roaring back. Three three-pointers, punctuated by Ry'van Buchanan with 32 seconds left, drew the Bears within 85-84, but McGowan and sophomore forward Sasha Sims went 4-4 at the line in the final 30 seconds to lock up a seventh straight victory.
McGowan and Mercer sharpshooter Briana Williams engaged in a terrific scoring battle throughout the game; the duo combined for 55 points (29-26 to McGowan) but it was McGowan's repeated slashes to the basket for baskets and three-point plays that pushed Stetson over the top.
"It was a great game to watch and be a part of," Bria said afterwards. "Our team fought through some adversity and I thought Mercer played a really good game as well. We tried to put two people on Williams all game; we did a better job of containing her in the second half but she is such a dangerous player."
McGowan, who had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in a 78-73 double overtime loss at Ball State on December 4, added five steals to her second triple-double of the season. She becomes the first player in school history to record two such stat lines in a career, let alone in a single season.
Said Bria, "Victoria just did everything for us tonight, I'm not surprised she wound up with a triple-double."
Freshman forward Cherisse Burris (Blue Springs, Mo.) notched her first career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds; also in double figures for the Hatters were Sims (18 points) and Sanders (14 points, six rebounds). The 89 points marked Stetson's highest output since a 93-92 quadruple overtime win over Lipscomb on February 10, 2005.
"Cee-Cee (Burris) just doesn't play like a freshman with her scoring and rebounding ability. She's a huge part of what we do and just keeps getting better every game," reported Bria.
Williams finished with 26 points and five rebounds to pace Mercer, which also got 20 points from Buchanan. Alex Phillips had eight points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Mercer stayed a step or two ahead of Stetson throughout most of the first half, leading by as many as seven points with five minutes left in the period before the Hatters started clawing back. Junior guard Ashley Dennis (Bexley, Ohio) was fouled while shooting a three-pointer with 3:06 to go; she converted all three free throws to tie the score 28-28 for the first time since it was 8-8 early on.
Dennis would hit a three-pointer from the corner on Stetson's next trip to re-tie the score, but it was McGowan who drew the Hatters level, scoring the half's final four points on two slashes to the basket. Burris had nine points and eight rebounds in the first half to lead Stetson while McGowan had six points, six rebounds and five assists. Williams had 15 points in the first half for the Bears.
Stetson returns home to host Jacksonville at 1:00 pm Saturday in a re-match of the 2011 A-Sun tournament title game, won 79-60 by the Hatters. Saturday's game will be broadcast nationally online at ESPN3.com as well as on Hatter Vision. Live Stats are available at GoHatters.com.
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