Shanasa Sanders scored a game-high 22 points and Sasha Sims added 11 points as Stetson rolled to a 71-57 victory over visiting UNF in an Atlantic Sun Conference game Saturday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.
Stetson led wire-to-wire en route to its sixth win in row. The victory also kept the Hatters (10-4, 3-0 A-Sun) undefeated in conference play.
“I thought our defense was very good today," Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. "And I'm glad we won the rebounding war. Those are two stats we always look at. UNF is a very balanced team. They've got really good shooters and they've got a good inside game, so you have to guard them both. I liked our effort. I thought our defense generated a lot of turnovers. Once we got them to turn the ball over I felt like we converted."
The Hatters jumped to a quick 11-3 lead behind three-pointers from Victoria McGowan and Jama Sharp and a pair of lay-ups by Cherisse Burris. Moments later, a steal and transition bucket by McGowan put Stetson ahead 17-5.
That would be last points scored by McGowan. After scoring a career-high 33 points at Kennesaw on Wednesday, the Hatter senior played just 19 minutes Saturday and was held to those five early points.
"Last year's team could never have won a game with Victoria only playing 19 minutes," Bria said. "This year we have different players step up and hit shots. You have to have that when another team decides they are going to zone in on one player."
After UNF cut the lead to 21-17, Ashley Dennis hit a three-pointer and the Hatters went to work on rebuilding the lead.
With 2:35 to go in the half, a hustle play by Sims kept an offensive rebound alive and Sanders banked in a three-pointer from the left wing to put Stetson ahead 31-20.
The Hatters committed just four first half turnovers and led 33-23 at halftime.
"Overall we took care of the basketball and we shared the ball very well,” Bria said.
Stetson maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half and extended the advantage to 20 on Ashley Buis’s three-pointer at the 8:43 mark. Sanders scored 15 of her 22 points in the final 20 minutes, and added eight rebounds, four assists, and three steals for the game.
“We have harped on defense these last two practices," Sanders said. "We did a good job of locking up on the guards and the post players. The biggest area for us though is to win the battle in the rebounding column."
The Hatters finished with a 35-31 advantage on the boards. Stetson held UNF (6-8, 2-1) to just 35 percent shooting while the Hatters shot 46 percent from the floor.
“Every conference game is important and every game is important,” Dennis said. “We want to do the best we can and play together as a team. We really want to be known for our defense. Our defense has won us some games already and we look forward to our next conference game.”
Stetson also stayed undefeated at home (7-0) and extended its home court winning streak to 11.
“We play much better here for some reason,” Bria said. “We got to play some different combinations today, and I like it when I can go deep into the bench and play a lot of people. I think that makes us a better team for March."
Stetson will continue its two-game home stand on Monday afternoon against Jacksonville. Tip-off between the Hatters and Dolphins is set for 3 p.m.
Scoring Change: A late official scoring change has awarded a three-pointer to Jama Sharp (now 11 points) instead of Shanasa Sanders (18 points).
Notes: Ashley Dennis made her first start of the season and played in her 98th career game … The Hatters have forced their opponents into four shot clock violations over the last two games … Stetson has held each of its last five opponents to under 60 points … After going 2-for-19 from behind the arc at Kennesaw, Stetson hit 10 of its 27 three-point attempts Saturday. Six different Hatters hit from three-point-range … Of the 280 minutes played at home this year, Stetson has trailed for only 4:17 ... Victoria McGowan now ranks 10th in school history with 1249 career points.