|Two-Seed On The Line Saturday When Hats Host Bears|
The no. 2 seed for next week's Atlantic Sun Conference tournament will be on the line Saturday when the Stetson Hatters host the Mercer Bears in the regular season finale at the Edmunds Center.
Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. with coverage on HatterVision, ASun.TV, and WSBB.
Both Stetson (20-8) and Mercer (19-9) enter the game tied for second in the league standings with identical 13-4 conference marks. The no. 2 seed in the conference tournament will join top-seed Florida Gulf Coast in playing their respective quarterfinal games on Wednesday of next week. The third through sixth seeds, however, will play their quarterfinal games on Thursday.
The semifinals are contested on Friday and the Atlantic Sun Championship game is held on Saturday, March 9, with the league champion claiming the A-Sun's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"It really does help because (as the no. 2 seed) you don't have to play three back-to-back-to-back games," Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. "You still have to play three games, but having that day inbetween (the first and second round) really does make a difference, especially if you are fortunate enough to get to Saturday's game."
Senior guard Shanasa Sanders was part of last year's team that earned the no. 2 seed and advanced to the championship game.
"It's very important that we get this next win so we can get the no. 2 seed and give our legs that extra rest in the tournament," Sanders said.
The no. 2 seed may have additional value as well. The top finisher in the regular season that does not qualify for the NCAA Tournament would earn the league's automatic bid to the WNIT, a postseason tournament in which Stetson competed for the first time last season.
Sanders says her emotions Saturday may be "bittersweet", as she and her four fellow seniors will be playing their final home games at the Edmunds Center. Ashley Buis, Ashley Dennis, Victoria McGowan, Janelle Mills, and Sanders will be honored prior to Saturday's contest.
The senior class played a major role in the Hatters setting a new school record for most wins in a four-year span (69).
"I am just humbled to be a part of this program, and for our class to be able to have that distinction together, it is something we will be able to carry on with us," Dennis said. "It's just pretty cool to know that this hard work we put in over these four years has paid off. We wouldn't have got here without our coaches and teammates. Every single person has contributed."
Hatter fans will get one more chance to see one of the most decorated student-athletes in Stetson history perform. The only Hatter in any sport to earn both A-Sun Player of the Year and conference tournament MVP, McGowan ranks third in school history in points scored (1463), fourth in assists (416), and fifth in steals (222). She has scored in double figures 75 times in her career.
z - not eligible for postseason play
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