When the Hatters dropped their conference opener in Fort Myers on Jan. 4, it certainly left a sour taste. However, Stetson head coach Lynn Bria was quick to keep the team focused on the larger picture.
"I told our players this is not the end-all be-all," Bria said after the game. "We would have loved to win here and start conference play off with a win, but there are a lot of games left. When you put too much of an emphasis on one game, you really get in trouble."
There were indeed a lot of games left. Sixteen, in fact, between then and now. The Hatters have won each and every one, and now face a rematch with Florida Gulf Coast next Saturday in DeLand with the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title on on the line.
"It is a position I didn't expect to be in, I'll be honest," Bria said following Saturday's win over Lipscomb. "At the beginning of the year I thought we would be somewhere in the middle of the pack, and maybe have a chance at the end. So I am pleasantly surprised that we are in this position, and it is a great position to be in. We've earned it, there is no question about it. We have to continue get better this week and prepare for next Saturday's game."
While the Hatters will be aiming for their first-ever regular season title, the winner will also claim home court advantage throughout the Atlantic Sun Championship. Both FGCU and Stetson will host quarterfinal games on Mar. 11 (along with USC Upstate and either Mercer or Jacksonville), and the highest remaining seed will host the tournament's semifinals and championship game on Mar. 15-16.
"After we lost our first conference game of the season, we realized there were no more losses we could take," senior Sasha Sims said. "We put oursleves in the position we want to be in and now it is all about getting the job done."
Saturday will also be senior day for the Hatters as they honor Sims and recognize her illustrious career achievements.