Leading by just two points at halftime, Stetson outscored Northern Kentucky by 22 in the second half en route to a 90-66 Atlantic Sun Conference victory Thursday night at The Bank of Kentucky Center.
Stetson (15-5, 7-1 A-Sun) extended its winning streak to seven games in a row and moved passed the Norse (10-9, 6-2) into sole possession of second place in the conference standings.
“It was a big win (for the standings) but even bigger because it was away,” Stetson head coach Lynn Bria said. “I think Northern Kentucky is a very good team. They are a disciplined team and a well-coached team, and they are hard to beat. We are very fortunate to come here and get a win, and I am very happy with our effort.”
Sasha Sims and Amber Porter each scored 17 points for the Hatters, who reached 90 points in a game for the seventh time this season. Jama Sharp registered 15 points and six steals, while Cherisse Burris added 11 points.
Despite committing 12 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, Stetson led 37-35 at the break. The Hatters tightened the screws defensively in the second half, opening the period on an 11-0 run to take a 48-35 lead. Sims capped the run when she grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled on the putback for a three-point play.
“It’s all about focus,” Sims said about the Hatters’ second half performance. “It’s about what we do, not about what anyone else does. Once we get our composure and distribute the ball the way we know how, everything flows better.”
Northern Kentucky went six and a half minutes without a point until Kayla Thacker’s lay-up ended the drought. The Hatters kept attacking, however, as Jama Sharp scored on an off-balance shot in the lane for a 50-37 Stetson advantage. Sharp would later find Porter for a breakaway lay-up to put the Hatters up by 16. With just over 10 minutes to play in the half, Stetson recorded a rare five-point play when Sims knocked down a three-pointer as Brianti Saunders got fouled away from the play. With NKU over the limit in fouls, Saunders dropped in two bonus free throws to extend the Hatters’ lead to 19.
“We just settled down more offensively, and we kept our energy on defense,” Bria said about the second half. “We didn’t give them anything easy. I thought we rebounded the ball extremely well, especially in the second half. In the first half they got about six or seven offensive boards, and we limited their second chances in the second half.”
Saunders and Myeisha Hall each added nine points for Stetson, Porter grabbed nine rebounds, and Sharp dished out four assists. For the game, Stetson went 30-for-37 from the free throw line and shot 48% from the field.
Lauren White led NKU with 23 points.
Stetson will head south to Nashville, Tenn. to take on Lipscomb at 5 p.m. Saturday night. The game will be broadcast live in ESPN3.
Notes: Sasha Sims moved into fourth place on Stetson's all-time scoring list (1465 points) ... The Hatters outscored NKU 40-16 in the paint ... Stetson is now averaging 79.7 points per game ... The Hatters have won 10 of their last 11 games overall ... With several players from the local area, including hometown native DeAsia Beal, the Hatters had over 100 fans in attendance on Thursday.