DeLand, Fla. - A 20-2 scoring run to end the first half and begin the second half blew open a close ballgame and sent the Stetson women's basketball team (20-6, 11-3 Atlantic Sun) on to a 68-46 win over visiting A-Sun rival Belmont (9-15, 8-5 A-Sun) Thursday evening on Pack the House Night at the Edmunds Center. 2,324 fans saw the Hatters claim back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in program history; sophomore forward Sasha Sims (Fayetteville, Ga.) paced Stetson with 21 points and nine rebounds.
The Hatters very nearly led wire-to-wire as Belmont's only advantage of the game was 3-2 on an early Tristan Daniel three-pointer. The first of five three-pointers on the night for Sims started a 7-0 Stetson run that gave the Hatters a lead they would never relinquish.
Belmont stayed within two possessions for most of the half, cutting the Hatter lead to 25-20 with just under four minutes to go before Stetson turned on the jets. Freshman guard Clarissa Coddington (Davie, Fla.) knocked down a three-pointer to begin a spurt where the Hatters buried four trifectas in the final 3:36 of the first period. Junior guard Shanasa Sanders beat the shot clock and halftime buzzers with a three from just right of the top of the key to punctuate a 39-22 Stetson halftime advantage. Coddington led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with nine points.
Stetson continued to take the fight to the Bruins as the second half began, scoring the first six points to go up by 23 and force a timeout. The Hatters kept their focus to the finish, never letting Belmont closer than 18 points the rest of the way home. A Sims three-pointer with 6:18 to play gave Stetson its largest lead at 61-36 and a layup from junior forward Janelle Mills (Wesley Chapel, Fla.) with 14 seconds left created the final 22-point margin of victory.
Sims connected on five of eight three-point attempts en route to her game-high 21 points; her nine rebounds also led the team. Junior guard Victoria McGowan (Inkster, Mich.) contributed 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals, passing the 900-point plateau for her Hatters career in less than two full seasons. She sits at 911 career points with four regular season and at least one postseason contest remaining in 2011-12. Coddington also reached double figures with a career-high 11 points.
Molly Ernst scored 15 points to lead Belmont while Haley Nelson grabbed 10 rebounds and Adrienne Tarrance dished out five assists. The victory solidified Stetson's hold on second place in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings, pushing it two and a half games clear of the third place Bruins. The Hatters also picked up their first home win over Belmont since February 12, 2005.
Stetson will host A-Sun foe Lipscomb at 1:00 pm Saturday in the 2011-12 regular season home finale. Senior guard Lyllique Roman (Poinciana, Fla.), the team's lone upperclasswoman, will be honored in a pre-game ceremony for her contributions to the program. Live Stats and Hatter Vision will be available at GoHatters.com.
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